Skip to content Accessibility tools

Apply Now: $80 e-Benefits Cards for Use at Local Farmers Markets

Fruits with tag prices on stands in an outdoors fruit market in Seattle, Washington.

“Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food.” That quote by Hippocrates, the physician who lived in ancient Greece credited with an oath and code of ethics for physicians, holds so much truth today. Food security—access to healthy food—is one of the key social determinants of health.

There’s also a well-known phrase: “You are what you eat.” Eating less nutritious processed foods doesn’t make someone a bad person but there’s no doubt that eating healthy, nutritious food contributes to good health. This is particularly true for our youngest and oldest community members. And we know that those who need access to healthy, nutritious food don’t always have it.

SFMP 2024 flyerIn 2001, the US Department of Agriculture set out to improve the diets of older adults. A federal/state Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) partnership germinated and grew into a very popular program that provides fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables from farmers markets for older adults with low to moderate incomes. Thanks to increased state funding for the SFMNP each year, more older adults have been able to enjoy fresh, nutritious locally grown fruits and vegetables.

In King County, the SFMNP is administered by Aging and Disability Services (ADS), a division of the Seattle Human Services Department that serves as the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle and King County. The program provides an e-Benefit card valued at $80 (one-time distribution) to be used for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets.

SFMNP benefits card

The SFMNP provides an e-Benefit card valued at $80 (one-time distribution) for use at participating farmers markets.

In 2023, ADS was able to provide $857,840 in farmers market benefits, supporting 10,722 low-income older adults as well as local farmers who produce the food.

“SFMNP benefits have inspired some older people to visit a farmers market for their first time,” said ADS Division Director Mary Mitchell. “Once there, they find a broad range of produce, including foods that are part of their culture and sometimes foods they may not have eaten since childhood. Moreover, they meet and talk with farmers, neighbors, and others, helping to reduce social isolation, and they have a really good time in an open-air setting.”

Applications accepted now through May 24

The SFMNP is a seasonal program. The 2024 application period launched April 22 and will close Friday, May 24. To apply, all the following must be true:

  • Age 60+ (age 55+ if you are American Indian or Alaska Native) by June 30
  • Low income (no more than $2,322 monthly income for one person or $3,151 for two people—for each additional person, add $829)
  • King County, WA resident

Applications must be completed on or before May 24, 2024. They can be submitted online via a special portal ( Anyone requiring a paper application can download one from the SFMNP website. (Do not apply more than once, duplicate applications will be removed.) Information and applications are available in 15 languages.

After the application period closes, completed applications will be entered into a random selection process. In July, SFMNP benefit cards will be mailed to those who were selected.

Questions about the program? Need help with your application? Call Community Living Connections at (toll free) 1-844-348-5464. The service is local and free of charge.

SFMNP mobile app now available

SFMNP e-Benefits card recipients can now track their benefit balance and purchase history, learn more about available benefits, and locate SFMNP vendors using a new SFMNP Shopper app. Learn more about the app here.

You may have heard the phrase: “Eat the rainbow!” Why? Because it’s beautiful and nutritious. At local farmers markets, you’ll find an array of fruits and vegetables representing every color of the rainbow. We hope to see you at the market!

Irene StewartContributor Irene Stewart manages communications for the Seattle Human Services Department and serves as editor of AgeWise King County.


Posted in Food