The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) is a 100 percent federally funded program which provides low-income seniors with check booklets that can be used to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs at Certified Farmers’ Markets (CFM).
The program is administered nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Services Agency (USDA, FNS), and in California, by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).
CDFA has partnered with California Department of Public Health’s Women, Infants and Children’s Program (WIC) in certifying farmers and CFMs to accept SFMNP check booklets. In 2011, CDFA is providing seniors with almost $800,000 in check booklets to redeem at WIC authorized CFMs. In California, the SFMNP begins in May and runs through the end of November.
CDFA partners with California’s 32 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) to distribute the SFMNP check booklets which include 10 checks redeemable for $2 each. The AAAs serve this purpose well because they administer several senior programs on a local level either directly or through their affiliation with senior organizations and centers.
At the check distribution points, seniors that meet the age and low income eligibility requirements are advised of their rights and responsibilities under the program’s rules and receive one $20 check booklet a year.
In 2010, seniors redeemed the checks for fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs from 1,200 farmers at 350 CFMs who applied and were approved to participate in the SFMNP.