Although the produce industry knows it will happen, Oct. 1 will still be a satisfying date.
That’s when all recipients in the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program receive monthly vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables.
While the numbers may seem small — each mom gets $8 and $6 for each child per month — if realized, it represents about $600 million in new produce sales, according to the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.
Studies have shown these consumers typically are not strong fresh produce buyers, so it largely represents new customers, not just shifting of dollars.
Even more encouraging is that the program has seen a 91% redemption rate for fruit and vegetable vouchers for regional WIC programs involving fresh produce.
The argument for fresh produce in WIC was about fairness, because it was under-represented according to the government’s own nutrition guidelines. That meant some food groups had to have their amounts reduced in order to keep the program revenue neutral, but that needs to happen in most people’s diets anyway.
Sure, it took about 10 years of policy work and lobbying for this day to come, but it shows hard work, good nutrition and good old fashioned justice can prevail.
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