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Program to help seniors access local foods launched by NYS: How will it work?

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The Department of Agriculture and Markets in New York will receive more than $3.8 million from the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to help seniors in the state access locally grown food, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Friday.


The funding, which comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, is part of $50 million the FNS is awarding in grants to 47 states and tribes to modernize and expand the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs.

“This funding allows us to bring more of New York’s fresh produce and products not only to our seniors, but also to schools and state agencies — supporting our farms and promoting healthier lifestyles,” Hochul said in a statement.

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In addition to the expansion of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, Hochul said she will be issuing an executive order later this year to direct New York State agencies to source 30% of their food from New York producers while also inviting local governments and school districts to strive to meet this goal.

The Governor’s proposed FY24 Executive Budget allocates $50 million to a grant program that will support scratch cooking facilities for schools using New York Farm products. The Budget also sets aside $10 million in funding for grants providing for expanded food access to farm markets, food co-ops, and other retail food stores in underserved communities, as well as over $2.2 million to expand urban agriculture infrastructure and community gardens across the state.

New York State Commissioner of Agriculture Richard A. Ball said the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is essential to ensuring some of the state’s most vulnerable residents have access to fresh, healthy foods at affordable prices.


“Programs like the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program are essential to ensuring some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers have access to fresh, healthy foods at affordable prices. This grant funding from USDA will help ensure even more seniors are able to take advantage of the program this year, while supporting the hundreds of farmers that take part in the community markets,” Ball said in a statement.

The grant funding allocates $3,378,945 to help New York serve more fresh foods to eligible seniors. It also allocates $500,000 to implement other program improvements, such as online applications and training for farmers interested in participating, web-based farmers’ market and farm stand directories, and outreach to more eligible seniors through partnerships with community organizations.

USDA’s Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program provides eligible seniors with access to fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and eight tribal areas. These foods help support nutrition security, ensuring older Americans have consistent and equitable access to healthy, safe, affordable foods essential to good health.



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