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Farm Fresh 2023

Farm Fresh 2023

Farm Market Fresh program helps low-income seniors buy fresh fruits and vegetables
CEDAR BLUFF, Va. – Low-income seniors in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties may sign up now for the Farm Market Fresh program. This Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program helps low-income seniors obtain free fresh produce. Appalachian Agency for Senior Citizens administers the program locally.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services a two-year $1.6 million grant to expand the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program in Virginia to:

• Expand coverage of SFMNP in Virginia through local Area Agencies on Aging and local governments that enroll low-income seniors. Currently, participating AAA regions cover less than 50 percent of the state; this expansion will reach 90 percent in 2023 and 100 percent in 2024.
• Increase the individual voucher amount to USDA’s maximum allowable amount of $50 per eligible participant.
• Adjust the income eligibility of the program from the current 150 percent of the federal poverty level to 185 percent, which has the potential to reach 70,000 more eligible individuals.
• Implement an electronic payment system of SFMNP funds to modernize the banking process for authorized vendors.

To qualify, seniors must be at least 60 years old and residents of Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell or Tazewell County. They may not live in the same household and may not be an immediate family member of the farmer who grows the produce.

Eligible seniors receive checks worth $50, in $5 units, that they may spend with participating certified retail farmers’ market vendors. Checks will be mailed on June 1 and must be spent by November 18, depending on availability of produce.

Enrollees may use the coupons to obtain locally grown seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs, including broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, greens, green beans, snap beans, green peppers, lima beans, potatoes, pumpkins, spinach, squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, apples, blackberries, cantaloupe, nectarines, peaches, pears, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelons and fresh cut herbs.

Items not eligible for purchase with Farm Market Fresh checks include produce not grown locally, such as oranges, bananas and pineapples; processed foods, such as honey, maple syrup, cider, nuts, meat, bread and cheese; and non-food items, such as flowers and plants.

In 2022, over 10,000 seniors enrolled in SFMNP. “We hope to double the number of seniors using the vouchers over the next two years to increase access to healthy foods and in turn, healthy outcomes,” said Kathy Hayfield, DARS Commissioner.

Individuals who have participated in the program in the past must complete a new application each year. Pre-enrollment is required and is limited, so participation is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Call 276-964-4915 for more information. Applications are available beginning May 1, and can be mailed or printed from AASC’s website at www.aasc.org. For more information about SFMNP, visit FarmMarketFresh.org .

Farm Fresh Fact Sheet
Farm Fresh Application