July 16, 2003 | By: Haven Miller

Senior citizens shopping at many of Kentucky’s farmers markets now are able to do something they’ve never done before – buy produce without using cash.  They’re exchanging specially issued coupons for Kentucky fresh fruits and vegetables.

The program, called the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, is underway in 48 counties this summer. 

“It’s made possible through a grant from the USDA for $750,000 and it’s a whole new program that we’re happy to be able to offer to our seniors,” said Anna Lucio, marketing specialist for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. 

Seniors 60 years or older must qualify to participate.  Ten $2 coupons are available per client. Qualifying seniors receive their coupons through the partnership efforts of KDA, the state’s Office of Aging, and the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service.

“Most of our senior citizens know how to prepare fruits and vegetables and love them, and of course it helps our farmers as well,” said Louise Moore, limited resource coordinator for the UK Cooperative Extension Service.

Coupons are available locally from county senior citizen’s centers or from the county Cooperative Extension Office, and to participants in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).  Extension and its Expanded Food and Nutrition

Education Program (EFNEP) also are providing educational information such as flyers, demonstrations and nutrition programs at county Extension offices.

Participating growers receive training to be certified to accept the coupons and redeem them for income.  Farmers say the new seniors program not only brings in more customers to farmers markets, but also delivers nutritious, fresh foods to more people and contributes to good health.

“It’s not only helping their diet to help them get more fruits and vegetable, but the quality of the produce is better and the nutrient intake is improved,” said Cindy Sullivan, a Woodford County farmer who grows and sells potatoes, beans, tomatoes, green peppers and several other products.

To get more information about the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, including a list of which counties are participating, visit the KDA’s Web site at www.kyagr.com.  Under the pull down menu click on “Farmers’ Markets.”  Information also is available by calling the KDA at 502-564-4983.


Sources: Anna Lucio, 502-564-0290; Louise Moore, 606-677-6186