With COA’s upcoming introduction of two new nutrition programs, local low-income seniors will have access to fresh produce grown right here in Ohio.
For the first time, COA will participate in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), which provides fresh, nutritious, unprepared locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey through farmers markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs. Grants made through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) support these programs throughout the country.
COA received a $180,000 USDA grant for the area SFMNP program. “We estimate that with the available funds, we’ll be able to serve 3,240 seniors throughout all five of the counties where we operate,” said Jennifer Lake, RDN, LD, COA’s nutrition business relations partner.
Eligible seniors who apply will receive a total of $50 worth of coupons to redeem at participating farmers markets in southwestern Ohio. While COA is currently finalizing program operation and application details, Lake anticipates coupons will be available for distribution by May, before the beginning of Ohio’s summer growing season.
Along with the SFMNP program grant, COA received a $40,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Aging, and will use it to launch “Producing Healthy Seniors in Southwest Ohio,” a pilot nutrition program that will utilize Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to bring fresh produce to low-income older adults in Butler and Hamilton.
While the program is still in the planning stages, Lake said COA is working to forge agreements with three local CSA farmers to deliver produce to select senior apartment buildings.
Seniors in the buildings who qualify should receive between eight and 12 deliveries of “senior-friendly bounties” during the summer growing season, according to Lake.
To qualify for either program, applicants must be age 60 or older and must not have a household income of more than 185% of federal poverty income level.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to support two very important communities here in southwestern Ohio with these programs – older adults who might not otherwise be able to access nutritious, fresh produce – and our farmers,” Lake said.