The popular Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is now open! There was a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for physical distancing, and suspended farmers market operations; however, as King County entered its Phase 2 reopening, the 2020 Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) application process opened on June 12. The application deadline was recently updated to July 17.
The SFMNP is a seasonal program that allows older low-income residents to apply for $40 “checks” that can be exchanged for fresh produce at 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 can live anywhere in King County and must have low incomes. Specifically, King County residents who meet the age requirement and have monthly incomes at or below $1,967 if they live alone or $2,658 for a household of two (add $690 per person for larger households) are encouraged to apply.
“The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides the opportunity for 8,000 older low-income people in Seattle and King County to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables,” said Aging and Disability Services director Cathy Knight. Aging and Disability Services is a division of the Seattle Human Services Department, which administers nutrition programs for older King County residents.
“We know that thousands of older people in King County, particularly our communities of color, don’t have reliable access to affordable, nutritious food, and many have grown dependent on packaged processed foods,” Knight continued. “The annual Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is one of several ways that we help older people get healthy, nutritious foods.”
Knight also reminds people that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over, and anyone at high risk of complications from the disease is encouraged to stay home and stay healthy until a vaccine is developed. Those who do venture out are encouraged to follow new processes that farmers markets have put in place due to public health restrictions—for your safety as well as the safety of vendors and market staff. Physical distancing and masks are required, and everyone is encouraged to shop efficiently, use hand sanitizer if handwashing is not feasible, and stay home if there is even a hint of illness (e.g., coughing, sneezing, runny nose, headache, fever).
SFMNP applications are available in 11 languages online at www.AgingKingCounty.org/SFMNP. Funds are limited so completed applications are entered in a random selection process to determine recipients. Completed applications must be postmarked on or before July 17, 2020 to be entered into the random selection process. Those who are selected to receive the vouchers will receive them after August 15.
For information about SFMNP, community and home-delivered meal programs, and other local services for older people, adults with disabilities, caregivers, and family members, call Community Living Connections at their toll-free number, 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 provides SNAP/EBT participants an unlimited, dollar-for-dollar match on fruits and vegetables at Seattle 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.