IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Jeff Wolfe
August 10, 2017 www.nj.gov/agriculture
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330
P: (609) 633-2954
C: (609) 433-1785
Contact: Jeff Wolfe
(BRIDGETON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher and New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett today visited Rottkamp Farms to encourage eligible senior citizens and participants in the Women, Infant, and Children Program (WIC) to take advantage of a program that helps them purchase locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.
More than 200 farmers in the state accept WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) vouchers, which can be obtained through local WIC offices and county offices on aging.
“This partnership provides an avenue for people to have greater access to Jersey Fresh produce by promoting the sale of our fresh fruits and vegetables from our farmers,” Secretary Fisher said.
The Department of Health's WIC program oversees the WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program and Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. There are 210 certified farmers statewide serving all 21 New Jersey counties that accept both WIC and Senior FMNP vouchers.
“This program helps local farmers sell fresh fruits and vegetables while providing families healthy, nutritious produce. But only 66 percent of WIC Farmers Market vouchers were redeemed statewide in 2016,” Commissioner Bennett said. “That means $301,843 worth of fresh produce that could have provided nutritious meals for needy children and families was returned to the federal government. We must do better.”
Each eligible WIC participant can receive four vouchers worth $5 each for the season to buy fresh produce from authorized farmers. The program operates from June 1 to November 30 annually.Rottkamp Farms, which accepts WIC and Senior FMNP vouchers, was established in Bridgeton, N.J., in 1974. That’s when Gerard Rottkamp moved his family from Long Island, N.Y., to continue the farming business he took over from his father in 1965. Sons Michael, Thomas and Gerard Jr. began Rottkamp Farms, Inc., with the purchase of 60 acres in Stow Creek, N.J., and 70 acres in Hopewell Township, and took over the farming operation along with the 30 acres of the home farm. The farm grows a wide variety of leafy greens, root crops such as horseradish and blackradish and summer vegetables, including melons, tomatoes and sweet corn.
“Being a part of the WIC program to make Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables more readily available to everyone is important to us,” said Betty Johnson, one of the Rottkamps’ sisters who operates the farm stand. “We want our customers to have good tasting and healthy meals and the WIC vouchers are one way to make that a reality for more people not only in our area, but around the state.”
Eating Jersey Fresh fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products can go a long way to improving overall health. Eating locally also is a good choice for protecting our environment by reducing the miles a meal travels between farm and fork, lessening fuel consumption. In addition, choosing locally grown products helps keep New Jersey farmers on their land, preserving the Garden State’s quality of life.
To find a road side market go to http://jerseyfresh.nj.gov/find/roadside.html
For more information on the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and how to obtain vouchers, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/wic.html.
To learn more about the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NJDeptofAgriculture and www.facebook.com/JerseyFreshOfficial or Twitter @NJDA1 and @JerseyFreshNJDA.