The Women, Infant, Children Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP) offers WIC clients $25 worth of checks that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating New Mexico farmers’ markets between July 1st and November 15th of the current market season. Checks come in $5 increments and no change can be given. To find out which markets accept WIC FMNP checks, look for the WIC/Senior check symbol.
Eligibility & How to Apply
To qualify for WIC benefits, you must meet the following criteria:
- Live in New Mexico. WIC participants usually receive services in the county where they live (U.S. citizenship is not a requirement for eligibility)
- Be a Pregnant, Breastfeeding or Postpartum woman, an infant under one year of age or a child less than 5 years of age. (Parents, step-parents, guardians, and foster parents of infants and children under 5 can apply for their children)
- Meet the income guidelines. Households with incomes at or below 185% of the federal poverty income level are eligible. WIC determines income based on gross income. WIC counts all of the members of a household, related or non-related. WIC counts an unborn baby as a household member.
- Be at nutritional risk. WIC participants receive an initial health and diet screening at a WIC clinic to determine nutritional risk. WIC uses two main categories of nutritional risk: 1) medically-based risks such as history of poor pregnancy outcome, underweight status, or iron deficiency anemia, and 2) diet-based risk factors such as poor eating habits which can lead to poor nutritional and health status. Participants will be counseled at WIC about these risks and the outcome influenced by nutrition education and nutritious foods provided by WIC.
Participants must apply in person.
More information about the WIC program can be found at nmwic.org or by calling (866) 867-3124.
The U.S Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistance program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.) If you wish to file a Civil Rights program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, found online at http://www.ascr.usdagov/complaint filing cust.html, or at any USDA office, or call (866) 632-9992 to request the form.
Accept FMNP checks as a Vendor
What types of foods can be sold in the program?
Fresh fruits and vegetables that are not processed beyond their natural state (aside from cleaning) are eligible to be sold to both WIC and Senior clients. This means that processed fruits and vegetables such as ristras or dried chile powder are not eligible. Additionally, Senior FMNP checks may be used to purchase raw honey.
How do I become an approved vendor?
Farmers who grow eligible items in the state of New Mexico, or within an 80 miles radius of a New Mexico farmers’ market if out-of-state, can apply to accept WIC and Senior vouchers at participating New Mexico farmers’ markets. Farmers will need to sign an agreement with the Department of Health and be assigned an identification number by the farmers’ market manager. Agreements will need to be renewed every three years, but identification numbers are permanent. According to the New Mexico State Plan with the Federal government, there is no reselling of fruits and vegetables through these programs.
How do I accept the checks?
Clients must sign their checks before spending them, so check for a signature before accepting a check. Vendors are not allowed to give change back on the $5 checks, so if a client is buying something that costs less than $5, offer other items from your table to make up the difference. Keep in mind that the WIC checks (printed in green) can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables only. Senior checks (printed in brown or blue) may be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables as well as honey. Make sure that the check is valid for the current year.
How do I cash the checks?
Before an FMNP check can be taken to the bank, you must ensure that it has the following:
- A signature from the client
- Your 4-digit identification number clearly written on the space provided
- A straight and legible Department of Health issued stamp from the market at which you received the check (take your checks to the market manager to get them stamped)
Accept FMNP checks at Your Market
How do I sign my market up to be able to accept FMNP checks?
- Markets must first be authorized by the New Mexico Department of Health in order to be able to accept FMNP checks. In order to be eligible, markets must:
- Be in at least their second year of operation
- Have at least three (3) farmer vendors
- Operate from a permanent site for at least 6 consecutive weeks between July and October
- Have a current market manager who is on site during market hours
- Participate in annual trainings (this occurs at the annual NMFMA market manager conference)
- Ensure that produce offered for sale is locally grown by the people who are selling it (no reselling is permitted according to the New Mexico State Plan submitted each year by the NMDOH to the federal government)
- Submit a completed and signed market agreement to the Department of Health no later than April 17th of the current year (NMDOH will provide these at the NMFMA annual conference)
What are the rules for accepting checks?
Once the market is approved by NMDOH, approved vendors may accept FMNP checks at that location. To become approved, a vendor will need to sign and submit a vendor agreement to NMDOH. NMDOH provides both vendor agreements and vendor ID numbers to market managers. If vendors are already approved through participation with another market, they may not be assigned a new number. Vendor agreements include an area to indicate at which market(s) the vendor would like to be authorized to accept checks. Vendors must get their checks stamped at the same market where they accepted the checks.
Market managers help ensure that FMNP checks are used only to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as honey for seniors, and that no reselling of produce is occurring at their market. Before depositing their FMNP checks, vendors will need to have the market manager stamp their checks with the market’s NMDOH-issued stamp. Market managers should only stamp those checks that have been completely filled in, meaning that they include a client signature and a 4-digit vendor ID number. Stamps must be straight and legible to avoid problems with check processing.
Market agreements are written for three-year periods, so markets need to reapply when their current agreement expires. Changes in market management must be reported to NMDOH and the new manager must sign a new agreement, even if the market’s agreement has not yet expired.