TRENTON – Today, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee approved legislation sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Senator Patrick J. Diegnan Jr. requiring the Department of Health to streamline the process for the participation of farmers’ markets in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.
“This legislation increases the availability of healthy foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, for low-income families,” said Cruz-Perez (Camden/Gloucester). “Making it easier for famers’ markets to participate in WIC not only helps low-income families to eat healthier, but also helps our farmers.”
The bill, S-3402, requires the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Services Unit in the Department of Health to authorize a vendor that is a farmers’ market to participate in the Federal Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for WIC if the applicant is approved to operate as a farmers market for the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Specifically, the bill would provide that the farmers’ market is only required to provide documentation to the WIC Services Unit that it is an approved farmers’ market for SNAP to be authorized as a WIC vendor.
“This legislation will cut red tape and ease the process for farmers’ markets to offer their products to WIC clients, allowing these families increased access to nutritious products that allow them to live a healthy life,” said Senator Diegnan (D-.Middlesex).
Currently, farmers markets are required to receive authorization separately from the State WIC Services Unit to participate in the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and from the Federal Department of Agriculture to participate as an authorized SNAP farmer’s market vendor. This bill will allow the one federal application to serve as authorization for all three programs.
The bill was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee with a vote of 5-0. It now heads to the full Senate for further consideration.