Farmers market programs for low-income families in Tarrant County expanded

Posted Monday, Jun. 10, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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How to get help Farmers Market Nutrition Program at Tarrant County WIC Clinics Low-income mothers with children ages 4 and under can get fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets at area WIC clinics. The clinics are open from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Families must be Tarrant County residents and WIC clients and obtain a WIC shopping document from a clinic staff member. Each eligible family member will receive five $4 vouchers. • Fort Worth: June 11, July 9 and Aug. 13, Bagsby-Williams WIC Clinic, 3212 Miller Ave. • Fort Worth: June 13, July 11, Aug. 15, Southwest WIC Clinic, 6551 Granbury Road • White Settlement: June 18, July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 17, White Settlement WIC Clinic, 1638 S. Cherry Lane • Haltom City: July 3, July 31 and Sept. 4, Haltom City WIC Clinic, 4113 Denton Highway • Arlington: June 27, July 25, Aug. 29, Sept. 26, New York WIC Clinic, 1608 New York Ave. Source: Tarrant Area Food Bank

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Baskets of peaches, tomatoes and squash were snapped up last week at the first of 18 farmers markets geared for low-income families in Tarrant County.

Launched last year at three sites, the Farmers Market Nutrition Program is being expanded by two more sites to serve mothers and young children who face hunger.

Administered by the Texas Department of Agriculture and coordinated locally by the Tarrant Area Food Bank, the initiative is to encourage low-income mothers and their children to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, organizers said.

The program is open to mothers who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, which provides food benefits to low-income women and their children.

This summer, the Downtown Farmers Market Association will set up in parking lots at five area WIC clinics in Arlington, Fort Worth (two), Haltom City and White Settlement. Families will use vouchers to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. About 50 folks showed up to shop at the summer’s first event Wednesday in Haltom City.

“It just helps everybody. We go into our regular markets, but this really helps the farmer during the week. It helps get rid of their produce, and they can pick for their Saturday market on Thursdays and Fridays,” said Jack Finley, a Lipan farmer who is president of the Downtown Farmer’s Market Association.

Last year, the program served 3,071 families, said Samantha Morgan, Food for Kids coordinator at the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

“We hope to serve more people than last year and give them access to fresh, locally grown produce,” Morgan said. “I think it’s important for their health, especially at a time when a lot of people are struggling due to the economy. It’s very helpful to have another way to put healthy food on the table.”

In a separate program, families can use their WIC benefit cards at some Fort Worth-area farmers markets, swiping the debit-like cards in handheld devices. But the farmers markets at WIC clinic sites are meant to be more accessible for families who rely on rides or public transportation to get groceries, Morgan said.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326

Twitter: @jessamybrown

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