Ohio Health Director: WIC Farmers’ Market Program A ‘Win-Win’

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said the growth of the state’s WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program represented a “win-win” for both WIC participants and the state’s economy.

Seventy counties – including Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana – now have markets participating in the program, which provides WIC participants with an extra benefit in the form of coupon booklets that can be redeemed for fruits, vegetables and herbs from participating farmers.

A decade ago, there were only 57 markets participating.

“This is an incredible win-win for Ohio,” Vanderhoff said during a virtual news conference Thursday. “First, we of course are getting more fresh produce into the hands of people who need it. Second, we are supporting Ohio farmers, many of whom are running relatively small and perhaps family-owned businesses. This is a way to boost the local economy while also honoring Ohio’s rich agricultural heritage.”

The program provides WIC participants with one booklet of six $5 coupons to use at a farmers market. The coupons can be used from June 1 to Oct. 31.

Across the state, local WIC agencies recruit farmers to participate in the program. After farmers receive WIC coupons from customers, they redeem them with the Ohio WIC program and are paid.

In 2023, the Ohio WIC program paid $575,920 to farmers who participated in the farmers market program.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that only 4 in 10 children and 1 in 7 adults nationally eat the recommended daily allowance of fruit; and that fewer than 1 in 10 Americans of any age eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables.

“Programs like the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program are an important way to try to improve those statistics and, hopefully, help more Ohioans live full and healthy lives,” Vanderhoff said.

As with the WIC program, the farmers market program is completely funded through money the Ohio Department of Health receives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Pictured at top: In this image captured from video, an Ohio WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program sign is seen at a farmers market in Newark, Ohio. (Ohio Department of Health)

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.