Funding for NYC Families At Risk

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It’s 2015 and a critical piece of food legislation, the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR) Act, is set to be renegotiated in Congress this year. CNR governs the Women Infant and Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP) among other federal programs that provide food and nutrition education to families. WIC FMNP is instrumental to Just Food’s network of community-run farmers’ markets. For some markets, WIC FMNP is the most significant source of income, even topping cash or EBT sales. 

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"WIC FMNP is such an important part of our efforts to make fresh fruits and vegetables available to everyone regardless of income," says Amy Tam-Liao, who manages the Pomonok Community Farmers’ Market based out of a community center at the Pomonok Houses in Flushing, Queens.

"We want to make sure that the mothers, youth and seniors from the community have the means to access the fresh local produce our market brings to the neighborhood."

Heather Horgan, the Market and Outreach Coordinator at East New York Farms! in Brooklyn, agrees. At ENY’s Farmers’ Market, WIC FMNP coupons made up 35% of their market sales in 2014, second only to cash sales at 40 percent.

"The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is vital in connecting local and regional farmers that grow fresh produce for undeserved and undernourished members of our community,” Heather says.

In 2013, 8.6 million women, infants, and children participated in WIC. That same year, 17,713 farmers, 3,322 farmers’ markets and 2,758 roadside stands were authorized to accept FMNP checks or coupons. The checks and coupons redeemed through WIC resulted in over $13.2 million in revenue for participating farmers. New York has the largest participation in the program than any state in the country.

The outcome of the CNR reauthorization will have a tremendous impact on farmers’ markets, farmers, and New York City families. The program, established in 1992, is a win-win for both local farmers and WIC recipients, increasing sales at markets and helping families in need to supplement their diets with healthy produce.

WIC FMNP funding is at risk and it is essential that Congress understands how vital the program is for low-income families in New York City. This year, Just Food will work to ensure that its network of community-led farmers’ markets has the opportunity to actively engage in advocacy to increase funding for the program and to prevent any additional cuts to the WIC FMNP budget.

Get involved! At this year’s Just Food Conference on Sunday, March 15th, lunchtime workshop sessions will focus on current campaigns and food policies -- including the CNR reauthorization campaign.

Stay informed! Look out for advocacy alerts from Just Food and check out the NYC Alliance for CNR.