Nourishing Communities: The Impact of WIC Voucher Program on Health, Local Farmers, and Food Access
Wanda Hernandez, Central Texas Food Access Coordinator
Double your Amount of Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Through October 31st
It’s the end of the summer, which means the WIC Voucher Program is in full swing. The WIC Voucher Program is a seasonal, supplemental nutrition benefit program designed to improve the health outcomes of young children (1-5 years old) and mothers (pregnant, post-partum, or breastfeeding) by providing $30 worth of additional WIC benefits to spend exclusively on fresh fruits and vegetables. This program aims to increase food access to underserved communities while supporting local farmers.
In Central Texas, the WIC Voucher Program is even more impactful because Double Up Food Bucks Texas provides a $1 for $1 match for a total of $60 to spend on local produce. Eligible participants can visit a participating Central Texas farmers’ market to receive $30 in WIC Vouchers and $30 in Double Up Food Bucks from April to September. WIC Vouchers will expire on October 31st. However, Double Up Food Bucks do not expire and can be used across Texas. Learn more about the impact of the WIC Voucher Program from SFC’s Central Texas Food Access Coordinator below.
A Personal Journey to Food Access
As a Nutritionist and the Central Texas Food Access Coordinator at SFC, I understand the importance of the WIC Voucher Program in improving food access across Texas. My journey into nutrition was fueled by personal experiences with poverty and limited access to nutritious food. Working in fast food restaurants for a good portion of my life, I noticed the lack of nutritious options and the widespread hunger in my community. This motivated me to become a nutritionist. However, while I was completing my education, I discovered that I and many of my colleagues continued to face food insecurity. Paying for school took a toll, and often food was the first thing to cut when making budget choices.
My experiences and my colleagues’ experiences ignited my passion for food access, inspiring me to make a difference in my community, support local businesses, and address food insecurities prevalent in society. I now oversee the WIC Voucher Program. This program plays a pivotal role in transforming the food system by providing families with more nutritious options with fewer financial barriers and by financially supporting more local farmers across Central Texas.
Nurturing Communities with Fresh, Local Produce
The WIC Voucher Program is a WIN-WIN-WIN scenario. Individuals and families eat more fruits and vegetables, which improves health outcomes. Local farmers increase their sales by expanding their customer base. The local economy is strengthened because federal benefits are spent with local businesses. This collaborative effort bridges the gap between communities with easy access to fresh produce and those with limited options, promoting food equity and healthier lifestyles.
The impact of this program is particularly significant for underserved communities that face a higher risk of diet-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease. By making nutritious foods more accessible, the WIC Voucher Program helps reduce the prevalence of chronic disease and enhances the overall well-being of our communities.
A shopper selects fresh tomatoes.
Increasing Financial Access for Underserved Communities
One of the most gratifying aspects of the WIC Voucher Program is witnessing the positive change it brings to the lives of individuals and families with low incomes. By increasing purchasing power, the program makes nutritious food choices more financially accessible. I once issued three vouchers to a parent with three children and watched as she filled their bags with cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, peaches, tomatoes, and more, all from local farmers at the market. Witnessing her excitement to eat fresh fruits and vegetables further proved the importance of ensuring all families can choose nourishing food.
Making a Difference Together
The WIC Voucher Program holds a special place in my heart because it creates a positive impact not only in my life but also in the lives of many others. This initiative offers underserved communities a chance at healthier, more wholesome lives. By fostering food equity and supporting local farmers, we contribute to building a more sustainable and nourished society.
Together, we can make a difference – supporting local farmers, increasing health outcomes, and ensuring access to fresh, nutritious food for all members of our community.
Help spread the word about the importance and options for food access by sharing this information with a friend, colleague, neighbor, and family member. For more information, please visit the Double Up Food Bucks Texas website or call SFC’s bilingual (English and Spanish) Help Desk at 512-730-1807 to speak to someone directly.