Albany, NY - July 7, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that $1.5 million in farmers’ market checks are being distributed across the state as part of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Made possible with funding from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the program provides checkbooks worth $20 to low-income New Yorkers age 60 and older to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. In upstate communities, checks will be available at county Area Agencies on Aging. In New York City, checks can be picked up at congregate meal sites designated by the NYC Department for the Aging, as well as through Commodity Supplemental Food Programs run through the State Department of Health.
“By providing low-income seniors with the means to purchase fresh, homegrown food, we are empowering thousands of New Yorkers to lead healthier lives while also supporting local farmers’ markets across the state,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am proud to join our federal partners to make this program a success, and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to explore a farmers’ market near them this summer.”
Checks are available for low-income New Yorkers 60 or over, earning $1,800 or less per month for a single or $2,426 per month for a couple. The program provides them with the means to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers selling at community farmers’ markets.
Nearly 100,000 booklets consisting of five $4.00 checks are being distributed, and can be used to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from 950 farmers vending at 500 community farmers’ markets across the state. The program is administered by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in cooperation with the New York State Office for the Aging, the New York City Department for the Aging and the New York State Department of Health. Checks can be used at participating farmers markets through November 30 of this year.
Eligible recipients must be age 60 or older and meet the income eligibility requirement, or affirm that they are currently receiving or eligible to receive one of the following benefits:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Public assistance or Section 8 housing subsidy.
- Recipients cannot have received FMNP checks from any other location.
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “As a farmer who has participated in direct marketing at farmers’ markets, I’ve seen firsthand the importance of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program to encourage healthy eating. These checks help increase economic activity at farmers’ markets, helping the operations of local farmers and exposing thousands of New Yorkers to first-class agricultural products.”
Corinda Crossdale, Director of the New York Office for the Aging said, “Fresh fruits and vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet for older New Yorkers. The Senior Farmers’ Market coupons provide an incentive for eligible individuals to include locally-grown fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet while supporting their local farmers. It also encourages them to get out in the community and meet neighbors while shopping at their local Farmers’ Market. I encourage those who are eligible to contact their county Office for the Aging about the availability of Senior Farmer’s Market coupons.”
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Kristin M. Proud said, “Low-income seniors will have increased buying power when shopping at farmers’ markets, enabling them to eat healthier by incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables in their diet. I encourage eligible New Yorkers to utilize the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program and get out and visit their local markets.”
Acting State Health Commissioner, Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D. said, "The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program empowers older New Yorkers to choose healthy, affordable, locally grown food. I commend Governor Cuomo for expanding the options for healthy food choices for more New Yorkers."
Senator Gillibrand, the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly four decades, said, “This investment will go a long way to ensuring more seniors have access to fresh, nutritious foods while boosting our local and regional agriculture. Farmers markets across our state are a great way for seniors to enjoy local, affordable fresh produce while supporting our agricultural communities.”
Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, “New Yorkers take pride in what they produce, and our seniors should have access to the freshest locally-grown fruits and vegetables in order to further a healthy lifestyle and support New York’s agriculture economy. As the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, I have fought for additional funding for the Senior Farmer’s Market Nutrition program and other important nutrition programs like it and will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and Governor Cuomo to make sure that seniors will be able to benefit from healthy, locally grown foods.”
Congressman Chris Gibson said, “As a member of the House Agriculture Committee and a strong proponent of the Older Americans Act, which funds the Area Agencies on Aging, I am delighted to support this program. Increased access to locally-sourced foods supports our local farmers and strengthens communities while providing nutritious options for seniors in our state.”
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said, “With dozens of farmers’ markets throughout the Hudson Valley, this important partnership invests in our economy, supports our local farmers, and provides our seniors with fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.”
A pocket folder with instructions on how and where to use the checks to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers at the market will be included with each checkbook.
For a listing of farmers’ markets across the state, please visit www.data.ny.gov.