Project FRESH - Farmer's Market Nutrition Program

What Is WIC Project FRESH?

WIC Project FRESH is a program that makes fresh produce available to low-income, nutritionally-at-risk consumers, through Michigan farmers' markets.

History Of WIC Project FRESH

The program was started in 1986 in several states across the country. In 1988, Congress authorized a three-year demonstration project to test the concept in 10 states. The project's success led Congress to enact the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Act of 1992 (P.L.102-314). Project FRESH was administered by the Michigan Department of Agriculture as a federal pilot in FY'89 and FY'90. After a two-year hiatus, on June 1, 1993, the program was transferred to the Michigan Department of Community Health, where it remains today.

Funding And Service Trends In Michigan

In FY 2011, WIC Project FRESH resources consisted of $449,436 in federal funding and $61,675 in local, private, in-kind/similar program and WIC program income funding.    These resources were targeted to serve more than 25,500 clients through 46 local health agencies in 75 counties. Michigan's WIC Project FRESH program must meet at least a 30 percent matching requirement on administrative cost.  This requirement is met through a variety of private and state funding sources.

WIC Project FRESH Administration 

WIC Project FRESH is administered by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Michigan State University Extension (MSUE). Local health agencies and MSU Extension offices statewide deliver Project FRESH services to certified WIC participants.

Who Is Eligible For WIC Project FRESH Coupons? 

Women and children up to age 5 (excluding infants) currently enrolled in the WIC program can get coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables. Women who are either pregnant or breastfeeding are targeted to help meet their special nutritional needs.

How Are WIC Project FRESH Coupons Issued? 

WIC local agency staff identify eligible participants and issue coupons at the local WIC agencies, farmers' markets, or roadside stands.

How Do WIC Project FRESH Coupons Work?

Each client receives a $30 booklet of fifteen $2 coupons to be used June 1st through October 31st in the year the booklet is issued. Coupons can only be used to buy fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at authorized farmers' markets and roadside stands.

How Do WIC Participants Know Which Farmers' Markets Are Authorized?

All farmers participating in Project FRESH will have a laminated yellow poster stating: "Project FRESH Coupons Accepted Here." In FY 2011, 112 Michigan farmers' markets, 130 roadside stands and 1,529 Michigan farmers were authorized to accept WIC Project FRESH Coupons.

What May Be Purchased With WIC Project FRESH Coupons?

Participants may buy locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, but are especially encouraged to buy broccoli, carrots, potatoes, squash, peaches, apples and tomatoes. A variety of produce rich in vitamins A, C, and folic acid are emphasized. Current allowable herbs are: Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Lemon Grass, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Summer Savory, Sorrel, Tarragon and Thyme.

How Do Participants Receive Nutrition Education?

WIC Project FRESH participants have the opportunity to receive nutrition education at their local WIC agency or in certain counties. They are given an opportunity to enroll in Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) classes. MSUE uses an "Eating Right Is Basic" (ERIB) approach to teach basic nutrition concepts, food-buying skills, proper food storage, sanitation and management of available resources. WIC Project FRESH also collaborates with the 5-A-Day campaign and distributes 5-A-Day for Better Health materials to WIC Project FRESH clients.

How Many People Participate In WIC Project FRESH?

In FY 2011, more than 25,500 WIC clients participated in WIC Project FRESH.

How Many Farmers Participate In WIC Project FRESH?

1,529 Michigan farmers participated in Project FRESH in 2011.

How Many Counties Have Project FRESH?

In FY 2011, 75 counties were involved.

How Do Farmers Become Involved In The WIC Project FRESH Program? 

Interested farmers should contact Pam Gove BEFORE APRIL 1st of each year at (517) 335-8996.

National Perspective

Michigan has the thirteenth largest WIC Project FRESH program in the nation and the third largest in USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Midwest Region V, which includes Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota and Ohio. Michigan enjoyed a 70% redemption rate during the 2011 season.

Senior Project FRESH / Market FRESH

The Senior Project FRESH / Market FRESH program is administered by the Michigan Department of Community Health, Office of Services to the Aging, in partnership with the WIC program.  Specified Senior Centers will issue coupons to eligible seniors.  Questions on this program should be directed to Offices of Services to the Aging at (517) 373-8230.