INDIANAPOLIS - A program to increase healthy food access for families with lower incomes is getting a boost. The Farmers Market Nutrition Program is part of a federal program that supports pregnant and postpartum women and children up to the age of 5. Women Infants and Children, or WIC, gives women and children with lower incomes access to healthier food.
Indiana boosted the money this year, from $18 to $24 a summer. WIC Director, Eldon Whetstone says this is part of an ongoing effort to increase access.
"This year we added markets in three counties and we also added thirteen new markets to existing counties and twenty new roadside stands and sixty-eight independent growers." Explained Whetstone.
Last year 17,000 households participated spending over $140,000. Participants learn about this shopping option when they receive their benefits. Whetstone says they the effort is also a good way to educate about health food options.
"We provide knowledge about how they can cook the foods and knowledge about when is the best time to buy fresh foods during the season, so it’s more than just the dollar amount... we’re also providing education on how they can best use those foods we are allowing them to purchase." Said Whetstone.
About 70 Indiana counties are currently participating in the Farmer's Market Nutrition program that runs from June to October.