Farmers Market Produce Voucher Checks: Enrollment Begins April 5
The Seattle Human Services Department (HSD) has announced that their popular Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) will begin accepting 2021 applications on Monday, April 5, continuing until May 17. The program allows older low-income seniors to apply for a one-time booklet of $40 “voucher checks ” that can be exchanged for fresh produce at designated or participating farmers markets throughout King County.
Qualified applicants are age 60 or older (age 55 or older if American Indian/Alaska Native) by June 30. They must live in King County and must meet income eligibility guidelines. Specifically, Seattle-King County residents who meet the age requirement and have monthly incomes at or below $1,986 if they live alone or $2,686 for a household of two (add $692 per person for larger households) are encouraged to apply.
“The Human Services Department, through our Aging and Disability Services division, has administered this seasonal program for many years,” said Helen Howell, interim department director. “Thousands of older people don’t have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food, and that negatively affects their health. The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides food for better nutrition and an opportunity to get out and enjoy the community.”
HSD’s Aging and Disability Services division funds nutrition programs for older residents throughout King County, including home-delivered meals and senior nutrition programs. Many of these are listed on HSD’s Interactive Food Map, created after COVID-19 stay-at-home orders made it difficult to visit a meal site or shop for groceries. In 2020, senior centers and other sites that used to offer community meals pivoted to provide take-out and home delivery. In addition, the division funds home-delivered meals for people who are unable to leave their homes to shop or prepare food (sometimes called Meals on Wheels).
“Once older people are vaccinated against COVID-19, I think farmers markets will be a fabulous place to meet other people, talk with vendors, walk, shop for fresh, healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables, and experience community life again,” said Howell. “That kind of activity is important for everyone in an age-friendly community.”
Starting April 5, SFMNP applications in 11 languages will be available at AgingKingCounty.org/SFMNP. Funds are limited, so the first 8,000 applications received will be entered in a random selection process to determine recipients. Completed applications must be postmarked on or before May 17, 2021. Those applicants who are selected will receive their checks in the mail in July.
For information about the SFMNP, other food programs, and other local services for older people, adults with disabilities, and caregivers, call Community Living Connections at (toll-free) 1-844-348-5464. Low-income adults of any age can also apply for Washington State Basic Food Program (SNAP/EBT) through Washington Connection and then for Fresh Bucks, a City of Seattle program that matches SNAP/EBT benefits dollar-for-dollar at participating farmers markets.
The Washington State Farmers Market Association provides a searchable list of local markets. Contact individual markets to determine if they accept SFMNP vouchers and/or SNAP/EBT and Fresh Bucks.
West Seattle Farmers Market photo at top by Patrick Robinson See more at patrickrobinson.net.