Jessica A. Chittenden|
February 17, 2009
364,000 NY Households Received $5.6 Million In Fresh Produce In 2008
Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program Provided Fresh Local Produce to Families
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker, State Office for the Aging Director Michael Burgess and New York State Department of Health Commissioner Richard Daines today announced that over 364,000 nutritionally at-risk households benefited from the State’s Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs last year. Eligible seniors and WIC participants redeemed over $5.6 million in Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks in 2008 to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at farmers’ markets across the State.
"The State’s Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program gives eligible seniors and WIC families an incentive to shop at farmers’ markets to purchase and eat healthy, locally grown produce," Commissioner Hooker said. "Last year, more nutritionally at-risk households benefited from this program than ever before, which also brings farmers new customers and income, helping to ensure the production of fresh fruits and vegetables remains a viable part of the Upstate and Long Island economies. It’s a win-win for all."
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides coupons for fresh product to help low-income, nutritionally at-risk women, children and seniors improve their diets. Last year, 114,000 low income senior households and 250,000 Women, Infant and Children (WIC) families benefited from the program.
The program also helps farmers increase the sale of locally grown fruits and vegetables through farmers’ markets. Last year, a record 975 New York farmers at 400 farmers’ markets across the State participated in the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, a five percent increase from 2007 to 2008. By participating, those New York farmers were able to collect over $5.6 million in Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checks, which are funded by USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS).
State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D., said, "Locally grown produce should be part of every New Yorker’s diet. Fruits and vegetables grown locally have traveled the shortest distance from the farm to your home, and are the freshest. Farmers’ markets are an excellent place to learn different ways to prepare fresh vegetables, and support a vital part of the New York economy."
Office for the Aging Director Michael J. Burgess said "Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into the daily diets of the elderly is very important. The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons provide low income older New Yorkers access to locally grown, farm-fresh produce, while helping to support the local economies of the communities where the markets are located. Everyone wins – older New Yorkers across the state benefit from fresher and better – tasting food, while more food dollars stay within their local communities."
The program is administered by the State Department of Agriculture and Markets, in cooperation with the State Department of Health, the State Office for the Aging and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program checkbooks are distributed by the Department of Health and the State Office for the Aging beginning in June and participants have until November 15 to use the checks to purchase fresh, produce at local farmers’ markets in New York State.
The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) fund the majority of State’s Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program for both WIC and seniors. For 2008, the WIC program received $3,342,131 in federal funds and $900,000 in New York State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds. Seniors received $1,906,550 in federal funding and $114,000 in New York State Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds. Combined these are the largest Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs in the country.
Farmers’ markets are growing in popularity in New York State and nationally. They benefit city, suburban and rural residents by allowing consumers more access to locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. They also help farmers maximize profit margins by selling directly to consumers. Currently, there are more than 400 farmers’ markets in New York State.
2009 Press Releases