Additional Funding Provided in State Budget For First Time to Boost the Program and Reach More Seniors
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that nearly $2 million in Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks will be distributed across the state. For the first time, additional funding has been provided in the New York State Budget to expand the United States Department of Agriculture’s $1.5 million program and reach more seniors. The program provides checkbooks to low-income New Yorkers age 60 and older to purchase $20 worth of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from local farmers’ markets.
“Our administration is helping thousands of low-income seniors live and eat healthy by accessing fresh, locally grown produce,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program encourages healthy living and supports farmers across the state, and by adding funding in this year’s budget we are ensuring that thousands more New Yorkers can also benefit. I am proud that our administration is joining our federal partners to make this program better than ever, and I encourage everyone to check out their local farmers markets this summer.”
In upstate communities, checks will be available for eligible seniors starting June 17 at county Area Agencies on Aging. They will also be available at Commodity Supplemental Food Programs in Kings County and Wyandanch. In New York City, checks will be available for pick up at congregate meal sites designated by the NYC Department for the Aging starting in July.
Approximately 20,000 more booklets will be distributed this year than last year for a total of 120,000. The booklets consisting of five $4.00 checks will allow for the purchase of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables from 950 farmers vending at 600 community farmers markets and farm stands across the state. 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.
New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “I thank Governor Cuomo and the Legislature for making the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program a priority. The additional funding means more of our seniors will be able to pick up these checkbooks and make smart, healthy choices for their meals, while supporting the hundreds of farmers that take part in the community markets.”
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. Nutrition education is provided by Cornell Cooperative Extension. 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—$1,815 or less per month for a single or $2,456 per month for a couple— or affirm that they are currently receiving or eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or public assistance or Section 8 housing subsidy. Recipients cannot have received Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks from any other location.
Corinda Crossdale, New York State Office for the Aging Director said, "I thank Governor Cuomo, the New York State Legislature and our partner, Commissioner Ball, for recognizing the importance of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. This widely popular program provides fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables to lower income, often times at risk older adults, to help them improve their health through better nutrition. New York's commitment to not only older New Yorkers, but also to the agricultural community is unparalleled."
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Executive Deputy Commissioner Sharon Devine said, “An extra half a million dollars from the State for farmers’ market checks will certainly help New York’s neediest seniors add more fresh fruits and vegetables to their diets this summer and fall. We are grateful to Governor Cuomo for supporting this important program which helps seniors eat a healthy diet, an important part of staying healthy overall. We strongly encourage all seniors who think they might be eligible for the program to apply, including those who already participate in our Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.”
“Ensuring access to fresh fruits and vegetables is key to helping seniors lead healthy and independent lives,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “This program provides that access to some of New York’s most vulnerable seniors so that they too can enjoy the nutritious produce that New York’s farmers offer.”
Congresswoman Nita Lowey said, “Fresh produce is a vital component of a healthy diet. I’m pleased seniors in need throughout New York will have the opportunity to purchase locally-sourced fruits and vegetables through this program. As Ranking Member on the House Appropriations Committee, I will continue working to ensure support for our seniors.”
Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said, “With dozens of farmers’ markets throughout the Hudson Valley, this important partnership invests in our local economy, supports our local farmers, and provides our seniors with fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.”
For a listing of farmers markets across the state, please visit www.data.ny.gov or click here.