Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

August 21, 2007

State Issues Farmersí Market Nutrition Checks to Seniors

More than 88,000 Booklets Worth $20 Each Distributed to Encourage Healthy Eating

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker and State Office for the Aging Director Michael Burgess today announced that more 88,764 Senior Farmersí Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) check booklets have been distributed to low-income seniors throughout New York State. Senior FMNP checks provide low-income, nutritionally at-risk senior citizens the opportunity to purchase farm fresh produce at farmersí markets.

"For the past five years, New York State has received the lionís share of federal funds to support the Senior Farmersí Market Nutrition Program," Commissioner Hooker said. "By making $20 booklets of checks available to eligible seniors, we are giving this group of nutritionally at-risk individuals an incentive to shop at local farmersí markets, purchase fresh produce and eat healthy. In addition, these checks bring our farmers new customers and income, helping to ensure the production of fresh fruits and vegetables remain a viable part of the Upstate and Long Island economy."

Administered by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and distributed by the State Office for the Aging and the State Department of Health, Senior FMNP checks work to promote improved nutrition for senior citizens through encouraging increased consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The program also helps farmers increase their sales of fresh produce at farmersí markets. The booklets of checks include ten $2 dollar checks, redeemable at authorized farmersí markets statewide.

Office for the Aging Director Burgess said, "The small increase in funding we received this year means that we are able to serve about eight percent more seniors. At a time of increasing food prices, this is especially important for lower income seniors. They enjoy this program very much and, as a result, we have a very high redemption rate for the booklets. Seniors make healthy, nutritious choices at the markets, which helps them stay healthy and independent in their communities."

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) funds the New York State Farmersí Market Nutrition Program annually. This year, New York State received nearly $1.5 million out a federal allotment of $15 million. This allowed the State to issue 88,764 booklets of $20 each to eligible senior households earlier this month.

Senior FMNP checks were available on a first come, first serve basis as long as supplies lasted. Eligible seniors needed to be at least 60 years of age and be receiving benefits through Social Security, pubic assistance, food stamps, HEAP, or section 8 housing or earn less than $1,547 per month for a single senior or $2,110 for a couple.

Senior FMNP checks are valid through November 15, 2007 at participating farmersí markets across the State.

  Currently, there are 910 farmers participating in the Senior Farmersí Market Nutrition Program selling at over 370 farmersí market locations across the state including 85 farmersí markets in New York City. Farmers sign up annually with the sponsor of the farmersí market at which they plan to participate. There is no fee for farmers to participate.

Farmersí markets benefit city, suburban and rural residents by allowing consumers more access to locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. They also help farmers maximize their profit margins by enabling them to sell directly to the consumer. Currently, there are approximately 375 farmersí markets in New York State, nearly double the number since 1990.

2007 Press Releases