May 13, 2006- Kaptur Kicks-Off 2006 Farmers' Market Coupon Program
The Ohio Department of Aging and the Area Office on Aging received a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the amount of $1,065,877 to provide locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs to 17,000 eligible older adults citizens in Northwest Ohio. This is the sixth year for the effort supported by Kaptur, who serves on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the USDA and the Senior Nutrition grant.
Mrs. Billie Johnson, Executive Director of the Area Office on Aging, stated, "We are so pleased to be able to offer the Farmers' Market Coupon Program again to our older adults. This initiative is a wonderful way to help continue in our mission to serve older adults and improve their quality of life. We have the opportunity to expand nutrition service options, enabling people to purchase the very best in quality produce fresh from our own region. We have been able to develop a strong partnership with area farmers, the State Departments of Health and Aging, and USDA, to successfully implement a creative program our seniors have truly appreciated and fully utilized."
Dr. Rebecca Liebes, Director of Nutrition at the Area Office on Aging noted, "We have heard from thousands of older adults who have benefited from the program during the last five years, many of whom were able to enhance special diets and improve their overall health as a result of being able to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Through this program, our goal is to improve the diets of older adults by offering coupons to be used to purchase fresh produce from local farmers to supplement their meals. In turn, our elders are helping local farmers by giving them a greater outlet to sell their produce."
Kaptur reminded people that to qualify, people over age 60 with incomes of less than $24,420 per year for couples and $18,130 for individuals may apply for the color-coded coupons. The coupons may be used through the months of June through October at participating farmers markets and roadside produce stands.
The Area Office on Aging explained that applications will be accepted at distribution sites and coupons will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Only one application is required to receive coupons for the entire program. The agency suggests that participants should select a convenient distribution site to apply for and receive coupons because for the duration of the program, participants will need to return to the same distribution site to obtain coupons each month. They should contact their site for the exact times, days, and procedure they will be using to distribute coupons. For locations, call the Area Office on Aging at 419-382-0624.
Eligible participants will receive the equivalent of $30 in six, five-dollar coupons good for the months of June and July, and the equivalent of $20 in four, five-dollar coupons per month from August through October. Farmers will have the produce clearly marked as to what produce is locally grown. A list of participating farmers is available when coupons are distributed. More than one hundred local farmers are participating in the Senior Farmers' Market Coupon Program this year.
Kaptur concluded, "This is a big plus for our region - for older adults and family farmers. It is the only one in the state and one of the few in the nation. It truly represents a win-win for farmers and older adults alike. We applaud the Area Office on Aging's bold pursuit of this federal effort to aid older adults' nutrition while contributing to the economic success of family farmers."