April 22, 1998
Fruits and Vegetables to Be Provided to Needy
TALLAHASSEE Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford announced today that the state will begin a pilot program that provides fresh locally-grown fruits and vegetables for free to pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children who meet income-eligibility requirements.
The program begins this month in Leon, Suwannee and Alachua counties, and will provide $20 in coupons that can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables in seven community farmers' markets.
"We think this is an excellent program with a great deal of potential," Crawford said. "It will help improve the nutrition of women and children, and at the same time provides yet another outlet for our Florida-grown fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers."
The program is being sponsored jointly by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Florida Department of Health, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and the Cooperative Extension Service.
Eligible for the coupons will be an estimated 8,100 recipients who participate in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program in the three counties a state/federal program that provides nutritional assistance to pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under 5 in low-income families. The coupons for the fresh fruits and vegetables will be provided to recipients at WIC offices. The pilot project will run between late April and July 31.
If the program is successful, Crawford said he would like to expand it to all counties in Florida.
To date, 30 states participate in the program. The USDA pays 70 percent of the program's costs while states fund the remaining 30 percent.
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