The Oregon Farm Direct Nutrition Program (FDNP) is part of a larger, federal Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) that operates across 38 states, 6 tribal organizations, and 4 U.S. territories. The USDA partners with participating agencies to provide the vouchers through a grantee program in which funds are dispersed to a state agency - in Oregon this is the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA)- which then distributes to local WIC and Oregon Health Authority offices.
This funding is used to provide vouchers for low-income seniors and WIC families to purchase additional fresh fruits & vegetables at farmers markets. The dual aims of this program are to: increase the purchase of local fresh fruit and vegetables among eligible limited-income households and to increase awareness and patronage of local farmers' markets and farm stands.
A recent USDA report indicated that people who shop at direct-to-consumer (DTC) outlets, like farmers' markets, may purchase a greater quantity and variety of fruit and vegetables than those that patronize more traditional food retail outlets.(1) However, the study also indicates that these households spend more money, on average, purchasing fresh produce. Supplemental voucher programs, like FDNP, can help to encourage healthy eating and offset this cost so that limited-income households can participate.
Over 400 Oregon farmers participate in the FDNP program - they are able to increase their revenue by accepting the vouchers at their market stands. These farmers deposit the vouchers directly into their bank account and receive 100% of the payment - in 2016 FDNP resulted in a net gain of $1.28 million for local farmers.(2)
This year, a funding increase for the statewide FDNP and changes to the federal program means that a greater number of eligible recipients received vouchers, and that the length of the redemption has been lengthened by one month. Now, vouchers can be used at participating markets and vendors June 1, 2018 - November 30, 2018. However, it is still not possible for every eligible participant to receive vouchers due to overwhelming need and limited funding.
WIC, officially called the "Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children", makes up the bulk of program participation in Oregon. Serving low-income pregnant or postpartum women and infants and children between the ages of four months and five years, the WIC FDNP program provides a critical opportunity for establishing healthy habits from a young age. Eligible participant receive $28 in $4 vouchers during WIC appointments or classes, and sometimes at farmers' markets themselves.(3)
Research shows that healthy eating can help prevent and manage illness, thus increasing longevity and quality of life(4). Because many seniors are living on a limited and/or fixed income, their ability to access healthful foods can be limited. Supplemental programs like SFDNP can help offset the cost of healthy eating.
Seniors are eligible to apply for the program if they meet the following criteria as of April 1st of the program year:(5)
- at least 62 years of age;
- participate in SNAP and/or Medicaid;
- live somewhere that meals are not provided;
- and earn below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level
Unfortunately, the funding for the SFDNP is more limited, so not all eligible seniors receive vouchers in a given program year. To receive benefits, eligible seniors must respond to a letter mailed from the state. Then, participants are randomly selected to receive $24 in vouchers to spend during the program period.
FDNP at Hillsdale Farmers' Market:
We are proud to participate in the FDNP program and require all of our eligible farmers (fruit and vegetable based) to participate as well! The FDNP poster is displayed at the information booth and we are able to provide basic information about the program to participants.
FDNP vouchers are redeemed directly with the farmers (no middleman - yay!). Simply look for the FDNP poster at individual market stands to spend your vouchers. No change can be given, but farmers will work to make sure you receive the full value.
If you'd like to see which other markets and vendors participate, visit the Oregon Farm Direct Shopper's Guide.
1 Source: https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/86878/err242_summary.pdf?v=43124
2 Source: 2017 Oregon Farm Direct Nutrition Program Fact Sheet: https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/SUA/Documents/2017%20fdnp_fact_sheet.pdf
3 Source: https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/SUA/Documents/2018-fdnp-fact-sheet.pdf
4 Source: https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/SUA/Pages/Physical-Activity.aspx
5 Source: Oregon Department of Human Services: https://www.oregon.gov/DHS/SENIORS-DISABILITIES/SUA/Pages/SFDNP.aspx