This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). Health Councils were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities.

The local CHIC is conducting an ongoing awareness campaign addressing the various areas that can potentially affect a person’s health. This article focuses on food vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh, locally grown food, at our local farmers markets.

The Farmington Growers Market collaborates with the New Mexico Department of Health each year to provide nutritious opportunities to low income families in San Juan County. The Department of Health provides the funding for two programs, one for seniors and one for mothers of young children through the WIC offices.  

The Senior Nutrition program operates out of the Echo Food Bank and provides qualifying seniors with a book of five, five-dollar checks (totaling $25) once during the growing season. These checks can be used at the Farmington Growers Market, the Aztec Farmers Market and Sutherland Farms market stand to buy qualifying items such as locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Seniors do have two opportunities to receive checks, depending on their income levels they may qualify for one or both programs.  Mothers participating in WIC have a single opportunity and can obtain their checks directly at the Tuesday Farmington Market and on Wednesdays at the Aztec Market. 

"The Senior Nutrition program operates out of the Echo Food Bank and provides qualifying seniors with a book of five, five-dollar checks (totaling $25) once during the growing season."

Both nutrition programs are designed to assist low-income families in obtaining healthy fruits and vegetables at the local markets. For seniors to qualify for the program they must bring their ID, proof of a San Juan County address and proof of income to the Echo Food Bank located at 401 S. Commercial Ave in Farmington.

 If you have questions about your income qualifications, you can contact the office at 505-325-8222. In addition to these programs, the Farmington and Aztec Markets also accept EBT and participate in a program called Double Up Food Bucks program, or DUFB, where participants can “double” their SNAP benefits at the market. If a participant chose to spend $20 at the market, it will automatically be matched with $20 in DUFB tokens, allowing participants to purchase additional NM grown fruits and vegetables for their families. 

Senior Nutrition and WIC checks cannot be doubled through the DUFB program. The money from all of these programs goes directly to our farmers and ranchers and stays right here in our community, encouraging both economic development and market diversification. 

The Tuesday market in Farmington and the Wednesday Market in Aztec are very senior and family friendly as they have just as much variety but may have less of a rushed crowd. They may have also more availability for parking on these days, making it easier to carry groceries to your car. There is always a helping hand at the information booth of both markets, so if you need assistance, do not hesitate to ask. Vendors can recommend great cooking ideas or new and exciting fruits or vegetables that can spice up your dinner table, as they know their fruits and vegetables better than anyone does—so strike up a conversation and get to know our wonderful farmers. 

The Farmington Growers Market operates weekly each year at the Farmington Museum, beginning in June, every Saturday from 8am-noon and Tuesdays beginning the second week in July from 4-6 p.m. The Aztec market is located in Westside Plaza in Aztec and operates each Wednesday beginning in July from 4:30-7 p.m. The various Markets will operate for two weeks past the first killing frost of 2017, or until the last Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday in October, whichever comes first.

For additional information, call the San Juan County Extension office at 505-334-9496, visit the website or visit us on our Facebook page Farmington Growers’ Market.  

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