The U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating $22.4 million to a program designed to help low-income seniors increase consumption of fruit and vegetables.
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, established in 2001, provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets, roadside stands and community-supported agriculture programs. According to a USDA news release, the program also helps develop farmers’ markets and similar outlets.
“The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides an opportunity for low-income seniors to improve their diets and overall nutritional health by increasing their consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables,” agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said in the release.
According to the release, the program is expected to reach more than 900,000 low-income seniors nationwide through the grants to state agencies and Indian tribal governments. Coupons for fresh produce can be accepted by more than 16,600 farmers at more than 5,800 markets, roadside stands and community-supported agriculture programs.
The farm bill provides $20.6 million, with an additional $1.7 million coming from the seniors’ program funds that weren’t spent in 2008, according to the release.