Two Austin-area Texas Farmers’ Market locations are gearing up for the kickoff of the WIC operating season, which runs April through October.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, are federally funded health and nutrition programs that assist low-income families and children. At TFM, SNAP is accepted regularly, while WIC is seasonal.

Through a partnership with the Sustainable Food Center, TFM has been accepting SNAP and WIC at select locations in the Austin area for years. TFM Director of Marketing Julia Keim said this year is especially critical with rising inflation.

“With recent inflation, and more frequent food shortages caused by weather disruptions to the food chain, we feel it's more important than ever to get the word out about these programs so that more Central Texans can take advantage of these benefits and get access to more fresh, local produce,” she said.

Austin-area TFM locations that accept SNAP and WIC are Texas Farmers’ Market at Lakeline in Cedar Park, Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller, Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sustainable Food Center farmers markets will also be accepting WIC and SNAP. The two Austin-area locations are SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown, Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and SFC Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley, Saturday 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

TFM started accepting food assistance programs to allow everyone an opportunity to participate in the local food economy, Keim said. Leaders at TFM believe that healthy, locally grown and produced foods should be available to everyone.

The city of Austin’s Office of Sustainability 2022 State of the Food System Report found that 14.4% of people in Travis County experience food insecurity. Keim said TFM aims to get the food being produced by local farmers into the hands of those who need it most, and the food access programs are one way to reach that goal.

In the previous year, $75,000 in food assistance program benefits was distributed, and roughly 25% of the shoppers who redeemed benefits were new, according to TFM. This year, Keim said, TFM is working to increase those numbers.

SNAP customers have no limit in the amount of benefits they withdraw, and it will be distributed to them in the form of orange SNAP dollars. Additionally, on any given market day, customers can double up to $30 in yellow Double Up Food Bucks, which is another food assistance program.

The orange SNAP dollars can be used on essential farmers market items such as fruit, vegetables, herbs, dairy, meat, eggs, bread and prepared foods to take home. Yellow Double Up Food Bucks can be used on vegetables, fruit, herbs and seeds.

WIC users will have to bring their WIC shopping list to the food access booth at select farmers markets, and there they will be given $30 in vouchers and automatically receive $30 in yellow Double Up Food Bucks. Each family member enrolled in WIC is eligible to receive the benefits.

Vouchers can be used to purchase vegetables, herbs and fruit. Keim said WIC users can redeem their benefits once during the season.

“Our goal is to make these programs as easily accessible and understandable as possible, so that we can help more Central Texans get access to healthy, locally grown food—particularly those who experience food insecurity, and prenatal and postpartum women, infants and children who are most in need of the added nutrients that fresh fruits and vegetables can provide,” Keim said.

Click here for more information on food access programs at Texas Farmers’ Market.