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MORE NJ SENIORS TO BENEFIT FROM FARMERS MARKET NUTRITION PROGRAM
Extra Federal Funds To Pay For Seniors' Feeding ProgramFor Immediate Release: July 17, 2008
Contact: Lynne Richmond
(TRENTON) – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Charles M. Kuperus, Yvette Jackson, Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service, and Senator Loretta Weinberg today announced additional funding this year for a program that promotes consumption of Jersey Fresh fruits, vegetables and other local products for senior citizens.
The federal Farm Bill authorized an additional $500,000 for the Garden State to provide low-income seniors withfour $5 checks, valid through November 30, to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs.
“For some seniors on fixed incomes, buying fresh fruits and vegetables is not a possibility and the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program gives them an opportunity to get New Jersey’s bounty directly from the farmer right in their own communities,” said Secretary Kuperus. “This extra funding for the program will help a great many more people improve their diets as well as support our state’s hard-working farmers.”
Total funding for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program in New Jersey, administered locally by the Department of Health and Senior Services, and funded through the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, is now $1,171,273 for 2008 with the additional money.
“We are very proud of New Jersey’s success with this program that benefits eligible seniors and the farming community, with the goal of improving the health and well-being of its citizens,” said Regional Administrator Jackson.
In 2007, 129,000 senior checks were redeemed through the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services estimates the additional funding for this year could benefit more than 20,000 more people than last year. About a million seniors qualify for the program.
“Only one-third of seniors eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. And with food costs on the rise, eating right is becoming even more difficult for older people on low, fixed incomes,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “Through this program, thousands more seniors across the state will be able eat nutritious, locally-grown fruits and vegetables.”
The funding announcement was made at the Teaneck Farmer’s Market in Bergen County, while Bergen County Division of Senior Services provided vouchers and applications to seniors who qualify for the program.
“What a way to be a winner- fresh farm produce tastes great and it’s good for you,” said Senator Weinberg, who is a Teaneck resident. “Right here in Teaneck, our seniors can enjoy the fresh fruit and vegetables and those on a lower income can learn about the new senior nutrition coupons.”
Mayor Michael Kevie Feit, Secretary Kuperus, Yvette Jackson, Senator Weinberg and Assemblywoman Huttle at the Teaneck Farmers Market
Also participating in today’s event today was Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle.
“Our agricultural industry is a thriving natural resource that has helped grow the Garden State,” said Vainieri Huttle. “We must protect it and nurture it even as it nurtures each and every one of us. On behalf of those seniors who will enjoy the benefits of our Farmer’s Market program, we offer our gratitude to the federal government for their support.”
Farmers markets provide residents with access to fresher, better tasting produce with less travel. The farmers then benefit from increased marketing opportunities while providing residents with healthy food choices.
For more information on the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, visit www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/md/prog/wic.html.
For complete information on locations, days and hours of community farmers markets throughout New Jersey, visit www.state.nj.us/jerseyfresh/searches/urban.htm.