Assembly Panel Approves Taliaferro, Mazzeo Bill to Encourage Participation of Farmer Markets in WIC and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Adam Taliaferro and Vincent Mazzeo to streamline authorization for farmer’s market programs to participate in WIC and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs was released by an Assembly panel on Monday.

In 2016, the Department of Human Services posted 29 farmers markets accepting “Families First/EBT cards” across 16 of the 21 counties on their website. The sponsors said that in an effort to increase access to fresh foods for individuals receiving federal and state nutrition assistance, some farmers markets have been approved to be authorized SNAP vendors.

“However, with multiple applications, the process to become a farmers’ market vendor is daunting,” said Taliaferro (D- Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester). “Farmer’s markets are a source of local, fresh food for their communities. The application process needs to be streamlined to do away with separate authorizations and allow as many farmer’s markets vendors, as possible, to participate.”

“Farmer’s market vendors should be encouraged to participate in WIC and SNAP programs,” said Mazzeo (D- Atlantic). “This legislation would make the process less complicated for vendors. With more vendors participating, residents will have more farmers’ market options around the state for shopping.”

The bill requires the 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 Women, Infants and Children (WIC) if the applicant is approved to operate as a farmers market for the federal and state nutrition programs.

Specifically, the bill provides 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. Currently, farmers markets are required to receive authorization separately from the state WIC Services Unit to participate in the WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs and the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and from the federal Department 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 released by the Assembly Women and Children Committee. It will now go to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.