You might find those peppers at a neighborhood farmers market! In the Pacific Northwest, we are blessed with a mild growing climate and delicious produce from local farms almost year-round.
Almost a decade ago, the federal government decided to award states with funds to encourage low-income seniors to eat fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey from farmers markets. Each year, funds are distributed to low-income residents age 60 and up (age 55 or older if American Indian/Alaska Native) through the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, administered by Area Agencies on Aging.
“Healthy eating helps older adults live longer and stronger,” said Maureen Linehan, director of Aging and Disability Services, the agency that oversees the program in King County. “Eating nutritious foods is vital to reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and more. Each year, this program introduces thousands of older adults to fresh, nutritious, locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey available at neighborhood farmers markets.”
A searchable list of local markets can be found on the Washington State Farmers Market Association website. Contact individual markets to ask if they accept SFMNP vouchers.
The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program brochure expands on that: “Eating more fruits and vegetables each day improves your health; helps you maintain a healthy weight; reduces your risk of many diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure; and keeps your skin and hair looking healthy.”
Applications are now available for this popular program. Here are some frequently asked questions:
What exactly do I get?
The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides qualified applicants—selected by lottery—with $40 “checks” or vouchers that can be exchanged for fresh produce at farmers markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs throughout King County.
Do I qualify?
Qualified applicants are King County residents age 60 or older (age 55 or older if American Indian/Alaska Native) with lower incomes—specifically, below 185 percent of Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In real terms, that means someone who meets the age requirement must have a monthly income at or below $1,832 if he or she lives alone or $2,470 for a household of two. For larger households, the FPL formula adds $642 per month per person.
When do I apply?
Applications became available on April 15, 2016. Completed applications must be postmarked on or before May 16, 2016.
Where do I apply?
Applications are only available online (www.agingkingcounty.org/SFMNP). Print the application, complete it, and mail it to the address listed. For information or assistance in completing the application, contact Community Living Connections at 206-962-8467 (toll-free 1-844-5464) or www.communitylivingconnections.org.
How are recipients selected?
Funds are limited, so a random selection process is used to select recipients.
When will I know if I’m selected?
All applicants will receive mail notification of their status on or before July 1.
Photo credit: Peppers (top) by Jeremy Keith, accessed on Flickr Creative Commons at www.flickr.com/photos/adactio/5013430410 (cropped slightly).
Local food is good for you!
To find a farmers market near you, click here. Contact individual markets to determine if they accept Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers.