By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

QUESTION: My family is vegan and we've just learned that we are eligible for the WIC program. I like to buy local produce whenever I can. Will I be able to use my WIC vouchers at farmers' markets?

L.A., via email.

ANSWER: The WIC (Women, Infants, & Children) Program was developed to protect the health of low-income pregnant and postpartum women, infants, and children up to age 5.

Depending on where you live, you may be able to participate in a special program called the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program. A total of 36 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and 6 Indian Tribal Organizations offer this program; however, it is not always available in all areas of a state. This program was created to benefit WIC participants and local farmers. Women, infants (over 4 months old), and children who have been certified to receive WIC benefits or who are on a waiting list for WIC are eligible to participate in this program, although some states may not provide farmers' market vouchers for every participant category. If your state has this program, you can receive special coupons (Farmers' Market Nutrition Program coupons) in addition to your regular WIC benefits. These coupons can be used to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs from approved farmers. Some states only allow these coupons to be used to buy specific foods grown in the state to encourage recipients to support farmers in their own state. Look for a sign — Farmers' Market Coupons Accepted — to find a farmer who participates in the program. When you've chosen your fruits and vegetables, give the farmer your coupon. No change is given so you may be encouraged to choose more produce if your selection is less than the amount on the coupon. Each state decides the amount of this benefit. Typically it is between $10 and $30 per year per eligible family member, although some state agencies add additional funding.

In addition to Farmers' Market Nutrition Program coupons, some states also allow you to use the vouchers for fruits and vegetables that you receive as a part of your WIC package at farmers' markets. These Cash Value Vouchers are issued monthly and provide eligible women with $10 per month and eligible children with $6 per month to purchase fruits and vegetables. These vouchers are a part of the WIC package in all states, although only some states allow them to be redeemed at farmers' markets.

To see a list of states that participate in the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, go to

A list of states that allow Cash Value Vouchers to be used at farmers' markets is at