Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
 Division of Agricultural Development
Steve McGrattan, (518) 457-7836

Access to Healthy Food

Promoting access to healthy, locally-grown food in traditionally underserved urban communities is a priority for Governor Cuomo and the Department. Acting under AML Article 22 and AML Article 23 of the Agriculture and Markets Law, Department staff facilitate and promote the direct marketing of New York State agricultural products from producers to consumers and wholesale buyers through technical assistance, grant financing and the production of publications. Farmers that direct market their products at farmers' markets can increase their revenue through the acceptance of the nutrition assistance programs. The following information will direct you to learn more about the initiatives and programs the Department has to offer.

Farm to School
New York's Farm to School Program connects local producers with schools. It strengthens local agriculture, improves student health and promotes regional food systems awareness.

Farmers' Markets
Famers' markets bring fresh produce and other agricultural products to communities throughout the state. The Department maintains a database of farmers' markets and farm stands participating in the FMNP throughout New York State. This list is primarily markets enrolled into the Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs.

Farmers' Markets Manager Professional Certification Program (FMMPRO)
An online curriculum has been created to train and certify farmers' market managers. The course will include all aspects of managing and growing a successful farmers' market.

Farmers' Market Nutrition Programs (FMNP)
The New York State Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) provides checks to low-income, nutritionally at-risk families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) as well as Senior Nutrition Programs. The checks are redeemable for fresh, local fruits and vegetables at participating farmers' markets.

FreshConnect was created by Governor Cuomo in 2011 to create new farmers' markets and support existing markets that provide outlets for fresh food in high need neighborhoods. Since then, it has increased capacity for farmers to directly market their products to consumers while providing New Yorkers in underserved communities with new opportunities to purchase farm fresh products.

FreshConnect Checks (FCC)
The FreshConnect Checks Program is a component of the FreshConnect Program. The FreshConnect Checks are issued to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) who shop at a participating farmers’ market. FreshConnect Checks are also issued directly to Veterans, Servicemembers and their military families through their state Division of Veterans' Affairs offices across the state. FreshConnect Checks may be used to purchase any SNAP eligible food item, including but not limited to vegetables, fruit, dairy, eggs, bread, jam, honey, and meat.

New York State Wireless EBT Program
This program enables both farmers and market coordinators to become authorized vendors in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly Food Stamps). This equips them to accept SNAP benefits using an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card reader in exchange for eligible SNAP food items.

Training Webinars
Depending on the program, interactive training may be required. Training webinars are now available for farmers to fulfill training requirements or for managers or related personnel to attend for more information on the programs. You must have a suitable computing device and high speed internet to attend. Registration is online, and webinars are free and open to the public.

Urban Agriculture
In New York State, there are over one thousand community gardens, several hundred school gardens and a variety of models of urban agriculture hailing from aquaponics to urban apiaries that also provide food and green space in communities.

WIC Vegetables and Fruits Checks at Farmers' Markets (WIC VF)
The WIC Vegetables and Fruits Check Program (WIC-VF) provides families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) with increased access to high quality local produce. These checks can be used at participating farmers’ markets and farm stands to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.