Famers market assistance for seniors available

Chad Frey
The Kansan

For senior citizens who qualify, there are packets of free checks to be used at farmer's markets waiting at the Harvey County Department on Aging. 

"We have income guidelines," said Wenda Black, a program specialist for the department on aging. "They can get seven $5 checks to spend at the farmer's market, anywhere in Kansas at a vendor who has that sign in their booth. Not all vendors accept them."

Currently there are two famers markets in Newton — The Harvey County Farmer's Market ipen from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and 3 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays in the Old Mill Parking lot accessed from the 200 block of Main, and the Newton Farm and Art Market open 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays in the parking lot at 121 E. 

According to the USDA website, the Seniors Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) is designed to: provide low-income seniors with access to locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs.

"I think it is neat," Black said. 

FNS awards grants to states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Territories, and federally-recognized Indian tribal governments. The program is administered by state agencies such as a state Department of Agriculture or Aging.

Locally the county department on aging distributes the checks to qualfied applicants. They have had the program in place for more than five years, and usually distribute all of the checks they are allotted. 

"Sometimes we get additional," Black said. "They best thing they can do is call us."

The Farm Bill provides federal funding for the program. Ninety percent of federal funds support food costs and 10 percent of federal funds support administrative costs of the program.

The county department on aging is located at the Harvey County Courthouse, 800 N. Main. Black can be reached via phone at 316-284-6880