Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur announced a grant to the State of Ohio from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for $3.971 million to expand the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program in Ohio.
This program is a federally funded program that aims to lower food insecurity among seniors, while supporting local agriculture. With the $3.971 million, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) in Ohio will receive a 150% increase for the program.
Administrators from SFMNP will be able to serve more seniors and expand into different areas in Ohio. Rep. Kaptur was not only instrumental in securing this funding, but also was part of the creation of SFMNP in 2001.
“The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is near and dear to my heart,” Rep. Kaptur said. “This low-cost, innovative partnership allows seniors to purchase locally grown fresh and nutritious produce while also supporting our family farmers – it is a real win-win for all involved.”
The USDA gave out $50 million total in grants across 47 states under the American Rescue Plan Act. Every year, more than 800,000 seniors across the country receive up to $50 worth of coupons. These coupons can be exchanged for fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey at around 20,000 different farmers’ markets and food stands across the nation.
“This directly reduces the effects of chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, and others,” Rebecca Liebes, vice president of the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, said. “Older adults rely on this program to fortify their diets and prevent food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition.”
Liebes also emphasized the benefit to farmers with SFMNP, as they can increase their business, grow additional produce and just generally see the difference they make in the lives of low-income older adults.
“While it is a successful program, budget constraints mean not everyone who qualifies is able to participate,” Liebes said. “Expansion of this program will enable many more people, who may otherwise not have the chance, to participate.”
Northwest Ohio’s Area Office on Aging offers the program in Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Henry, Lucas, Ottawa, Paulding, Sandusky, Williams and Wood counties. Across the 10 counties, 19,795 seniors receive the coupons.
This is not Rep. Kaptur’s first time championing such programs. In August 2022, Rep. Kaptur introduced the Farmers’ Market and Food Bank Local Revitalization Act, which increased federal funding for the senior nutrition effort.
“I’ll continue working diligently on the House Appropriations Committee to ensure this remarkable program for our seniors and farmers continues to be funded for years to come,” Rep. Kaptur said.