ALBANY — The state is distributing $1.5 million in checks as part of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
Made possible with funding from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the program provides checkbooks worth $20 to low-income New Yorkers age 60 and older to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables.
In upstate communities, checks will be available at county agencies on aging.
Nearly 100,000 booklets consisting of five $4 checks are being distributed. They can be used through Nov. 30 for produce from 950 farmers vending at 500 community farmers markets 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.
Checks are available for New Yorkers age 60 or over earning $1,800 or less per month for a single or $2,426 per month for a couple.
Seniors also qualify if they are currently receiving or eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income and public assistance or Section 8 housing subsidy. Recipients cannot have received FMNP checks from any other location.
“By providing low-income seniors with the means to purchase fresh, homegrown food, we are empowering thousands of New Yorkers to lead healthier lives while also supporting local farmers markets across the state,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.
“I am proud to join our federal partners to make this program a success, and I encourage all eligible New Yorkers to explore a farmers market near them this summer.”
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the first New Yorker to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in nearly four decades, said: “This investment will go a long way to ensuring more seniors have access to fresh, nutritious foods while boosting our local and regional agriculture. Farmers markets across our state are a great way for seniors to enjoy local, affordable fresh produce while supporting our agricultural communities.”
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, New York City Department for the Aging and New York State Department of Health.
Many communities in the North Country are sites for farmers markets.
or a listing of farmers markets across the state, visit the website data.ny.gov and write "farmers markets" in the search function.