FRANKFORT — A program designed to improve nutrition for low income Kentucky seniors is getting a boost this year. An increase in grant monies will allow the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program to increase the voucher amounts seniors receive to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables this year.
“The Department’s work to bring freshly-grown nutritious food to the tables for some of more vulnerable seniors is one of the most rewarding programs we offer,” Commissioner of Agriculture Dr. Ryan Quarles said. “With additional funds, we can get seniors larger access and fill an even greater nutritional void.”
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides vouchers for eligible seniors to purchase fresh, unprocessed, locally grown fruits, vegetables, cut cooking herbs, and honey at state-approved farmers’ markets. In 2020, the grant amount for the program was $316,869 allowing qualifying seniors to receive $30 in vouchers. For 2021, the grant amount increases to $500,229 thanks to residual funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allowing participants to receive $48 in vouchers.
Funding for Kentucky’s Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition program comes from federal and state resources. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) serves as the lead agency to distribute the vouchers to seniors. The vouchers are issued on a first-come basis each June and can be used through October. To learn more about the program and eligibility or for a list of distribution agencies, visit the senior farmers’ market page on KDA’s website or contact KDA employees Jesse Frye at (502)382-7458 or Tina Garland (502)382-7505.
In addition to helping seniors improve nutrition access, the program gains market access for those farmers participating in farmers’ markets across the state. This year there are 98 certified farmers’ markets participating in the program.
KDA is also launching a pilot program focused on helping veterans at four farmers’ markets in the state. The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Veteran Program targets lower-income senior veterans who may not have access to fresh food or the resources to afford them.
“Serving our country is one of the most admirable things a person can do,” Quarles said. “While we can’t fully repay someone for their service, this program will at the very least provide help for some of our most vulnerable veterans. Although we are beginning the pilot phase now, our hope is to be able to expand this program for all of our senior veterans throughout the state.”
The program will be available to residents in four Kentucky counties: Christian, Fayette, Hardin, and Madison. Signups are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those participating receive $48 in vouchers, redeemable for fresh farm fruits and vegetables, cut cooking herbs, and honey at participating farmers’ market locations. For information on voucher information and availability contact the distribution area for the participating county.
In order to be eligible, participants must be 60 years old, plus one day, at the date of issuance, be able to provide their proof of veteran status, and meet income qualifications.
Distribution areas for each county are:
Christian County Housing Authority
400 North Elm Street
Hopkinsville, KY 42240
(270)887-4275 ext. 1102
Lexington Senior Center
195 Life Lane
Lexington, KY 40502
Hardin County Cooperative Extension
111 Opportunity Way
Elizabethtown, KY 42701
Madison County Cooperative Extension
230 Duncannon Lane
Richmond, KY 40475
— Kentucky Department of Agriculture
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