United Fresh expects WIC cash voucher program
The United Fresh Produce Association has been working with members of Congress on legislation to give states the option to increase cash vouchers for fruit and vegetable purchases in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to $35 per month through the end of September 2020, United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel said Monday in an email to members.
Stenzel noted that the WIC program provides funds for low-income women and children 5 and under, and currently provides vouchers for fruits and vegetables of $9 month for children and $11 for women. The increase could translate to an additional $120 million a month in fruit and vegetable purchases among the WIC community, Stenzel said.
The announcement could come as early as today, and United Fresh leadership is hopeful “it will be included in the next coronavirus package that Congress passes,” Stenzel said.
Stenzel also said it is United Fresh’s understanding that 600 organizations got proposals into USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service for the Farmers to Families purchase program and that AMS expects to announce grants by Friday.
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Under that program, USDA will buy $300 million each month in fruits and vegetables, precooked chicken and pork and dairy products.
“There are surely going to be hiccups in launching such a major new program so quickly, but this is progress nonetheless,” Stenzel said.
Of the $470 million in purchases of agriculture commodities through its Section 32 program to relieve market surpluses identified by its economic analysis and commodity requests, $125 million is spread among pears, potatoes, strawberries, sweet potatoes, tart cherries and asparagus, Stenzel said.
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