by Jonathan Thompson
October 3, 2011
The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) awards grants provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for fresh, local foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs) at farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, thereby helping to increase consumption of locally produced food provided through direct farmer marketing.
During federal FY 2010, benefits were available nationally to 844,999 low-income seniors from 20,106 farmers at 4,601 farmers' markets as well as 3,681 roadside stands and 163 CSAs. The federal FY 2010 grant to New York State was $ 1,936,972. In New York City, seniors receive their SFMNP coupons at congregate meal sites and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Food and Nutrition sites.
Last year in New York City, the SFMNP distributed $20 booklets to 56,501 low income senior households. To be eligible, at least one member of the household must be over 60 and the household must be at or below 185% of the federal poverty level ($20,147 for a single person household and $27,214 for a two person household). Of the checks issued, just over 80% ($908,628) were used. (This does not equate precisely to 80% of the households since, in some cases, less than a full booklet of $20 was used.) Issuance in 2011 is quite close to last year’s issuance.
The check booklets can be used at any of the 123 markets. Many of the markets are also equipped with EBT terminals so customers also can use their SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits to purchase fresh produce from participating farmers.
Watch this video of seniors using SFMNP checks at markets in Mount Vernon and Niagara Falls, New York.