|MDAR Receives Funds to Increase Seniors' Access to Locally Grown Produce|
|02:16PM / Saturday, March 04, 2023|
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) announced today that Massachusetts has been awarded $1,410,222 to expand the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).
The award was granted by the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
The $1.4 million grant award will allow MDAR to increase the level of benefit for seniors participating in the SFMNP from $25 to $50. The increase in funding will also allow MDAR to serve an additional 2,300 seniors and disabled individuals over the next two years.
"This award is a win for seniors, farmers, and our Commonwealth," said EEA Secretary Rebecca Tepper. "The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides an important safety net for our seniors and has proven to be a vital part of our recovery from the pandemic when food insecurity skyrocketed. With these funds, we can continue to expand access to local and nutritious fruits and vegetables, while continuing to support our Massachusetts farmers."
The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program is a seasonal, annual program providing low-income seniors with coupons to purchase fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, fresh-cut herbs, and honey from Massachusetts farmers. Every year, coupons are spent at over 300 farmers' markets and farmstands across the state.
"MDAR appreciates the support and partnership with USDA's Food and Nutrition Service and remains committed to ensuring that our most vulnerable populations, including elders, have access to local, fresh food," stated MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. "At a time when food insecurity rates remain high, the added benefit will provide elders with high-quality, nutritious food while supporting our Massachusetts farmers and food producers."
The SFMNP is administered thanks to the 23 Elder Nutrition Programs across the state that distribute coupons throughout their service areas. Every summer, coupons are distributed to eligible participants at senior centers, councils on aging, and senior housing sites across the Commonwealth. Eligible seniors must be 60 years of age or older or disabled, living in senior housing where congregate nutrition services are provided, and with household incomes below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Coupons are distributed from July through the end of September every year. For more information about SFMNP, visit the MDAR program website. Learn more about program eligibility here.
MDAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its five divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Food Safety –
MDAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth's agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.