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Maternal & Child Health - WIC Program - Obesity

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% of WIC Farm-to-Family coupons redeemed


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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: May 2016.

Author: Division of Maternal and Child Health, WIC program, Vermont Department of Health

The WIC Famers Market Nutrition Program, known in Vermont as Farm to Family, is not part of the WIC program, it is a separate USDA program with the dual purpose of increasing the number of farmers markets in participating states and increasing WIC participants’ consumption of fresh produce. In Vermont, the program is managed by DCF Economic Services Division. The program does not have sufficient funding to provide coupons to all eligible WIC participants, so WIC uses Farm to Family coupons as an incentive for families to participate in nutrition education activities designed to support fruit and vegetable consumption. District offices focus on providing nutrition education and coupon distribution at the farmers markets, so that families can use their coupons immediately. Families also have the option to participate in an on-line nutrition education class, and to then pick up coupons at the district office at a time that is convenient for them.

After declining for several years, redemption has been slowly increasing since 2011, and remained steady at 75% in 2014 and 2015. At the end of the 2015 season, the DCF program manager retired, causing the 2016 program to have a delayed start. This may have a paradoxical effect, if coupon distribution slightly later in the season means that more produce is available when a family visits the market for the first time.

  • VDH District Office staff
  • Department for Children & Families – Economic Services Division
  • Farmers markets and participating farmers
  • Western Michigan University/
What Works

The single most effective method of increasing coupon redemption is distribution of coupons at farmers markets when produce selection is at its peak. Other positive practices include:

  • Taste tests of unfamiliar produce – many farmers make small samples available
  • Prominent posting of the Farm to Family signs by participating farmers, so that families know in advance which farmers can accept coupons
  • Multiple methods of participating in nutrition education activities outside of scheduled group coupon distribution activities
Action Plan

The 2015 Action Plan will be developed in April-May 2015 as part of preparation for the 2015 Farm to Family season which starts in mid-June.

2014 Action Plan

One district office plans to pilot test computer-based nutrition education at the district office for families who are unable to participate in group nutrition education activities.

Limited overtime has been approved for the summer season to allow district office staff to distribute coupons at Saturday and late afternoon/early evening markets. The total dollar amount of coupons distributed to a family early in the season will be increased from $30 to $60 (in previous seasons, families had to attend a second activity to receive the increased benefit).

Action Plan

Measure not reliably provided by DCF.

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