New York state is working to put more fresh vegetables on the tables of senior citizens by infusing $1.8 million into the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
New Yorkers aged 60 and older who qualify with monthly earnings of $1,772 or less are eligible to collect a booklet containing five $4 checks usable at 470 farmers markets statewide.
“The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is an important resource that provides New Yorkers with access to fresh, locally grown produce while also supporting the local economies and agricultural sector,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release issued Wednesday by the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.
“Through this program, we are connecting more than 100,000 low-income seniors across the state with affordable, healthy food options in their communities and providing a boost to local farmers bringing their products to market in every region of the state,” he said in the release.
The monthly income threshold is set at $2,392 for two-person households and $3,011 for three-person households.
Seniors could also qualify if they are currently receiving or are eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income, public assistance or Section 8 housing subsidies.
About 100,000 booklets are being sent to Office for the Aging locales throughout the state. They will give seniors access to the harvest of 950 farmers who send their goods to the farmers’ markets.
“A healthy diet consisting of New York-grown fresh fruits and vegetables is paramount to one’s health and a contributor to maintaining one’s independence,” state OFA acting Director Greg Olsen said in the news release.
“The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is an important ingredient to help eligible older New Yorkers improve health outcomes, combat obesity and provide support to local farmers,” he said.
Schoharie County Office for the Aging Director Nancy Dingee said the offerings of local fruits and veggies can’t be beat for freshness.
“I love it because they’re literally vegetables that are grown locally and just picked from the fields,” she said.
Many seniors living on fixed incomes are eligible, Dingee said.
She said it’s unclear if seniors make it a point to gather vegetables and fruits as part of their regular menu, but this program should help make that happen.
“It gives them additional resources to make sure that they get the fresh veggies,” Dingee said.
More information is available by calling the Department of Agriculture and Markets at 1-800-554-4501. A list of farmers markets can be found online at www.agriculture.ny.gov.