Fruits and vegetables are not only tasty but also full of nutrients and have lots of health benefits. Some nutrients found in delicious fruits and vegetables are Calcium, Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, Folic Acid, and Potassium. Calcium is great for strong bones and teeth. Some fruits high in calcium are oranges, kiwis, and blackberries. Vitamin A is great to support healthy vision. Vegetables rich in vitamin A are Asparagus, okra, and celery. Fiber helps with digestion and the risk of heart disease. Some fruits and vegetables high in fiber are Apples, bananas, oranges, strawberries, mango, raspberries, green peas, collard greens, artichokes, parsnips, broccoli, carrots, and spinach, to name a few. Folic acid is very beneficial for those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Folic acid helps with the development of your baby and helps prevent miscarriages.
WIC encourages pregnant participants to take prenatal vitamins with folic acid but also encourages them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables high in folic acid are broccoli, carrots, avocado, asparagus oranges, and many more. WIC benefits include a cash value to spend on fresh, frozen, spend on fresh, frozen, canned, or dried fruits and vegetables. During the summer months, each eligible WIC participant receives an additional $30 in benefits to spend at the local Farmer’s Markets. These Farmer’s Market (FMNP) benefits are available from June to November.
With the introduction of the eWIC card, FMNP benefits are transitioning to electronic benefits too! What does this mean? This means benefits are no longer available on paper checks, but each family will receive a unique QR code. This unique code will be linked to the family’s Farmer’s Market account. When you come to your next in-person appointment, WIC staff will guide you through the steps to set up your new FMNP benefits. There are so many additional resources throughout the DC area to help keep your family healthy this summer. While the cash value benefit of the eWIC card cannot be used at the Farmer’s Market, some local programs provide additional fruit/vegetable resources. Produce Plus provides an additional $40 per month for eligible participants. Check out their website to see if your family qualifies. https://www.freshfarm.org/produceplus
Some people worry about their fresh fruits and vegetables not lasting in the refrigerator. Here are some tips to help your produce last longer:
- Freeze them.
- Wash, dry, and store them in airtight containers.
- Store some vegetables, like carrots and celery, in water.
- Store citrus fruits, ginger, and avocado in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process.
We often imagine salads or fruit salads when thinking about fresh fruits and vegetables. However, there are many additional ways to prepare fruits and vegetables. You can blanch them, grill, bake, sauté, make smoothies, or even air fry. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things! There are lots of great summer recipes to include fresh fruits and vegetables. The All-Recipes website is a great place to start. https://www.allrecipes.com/. Be sure to contact your local WIC agency to learn more about the new FMNP benefits!