NYACK, N.Y. -- State Sen. David Carlucci recently joined with Nyack Chamber of Commerce Vice President Roger Cohen, Rockland County Department of Health Public Health Nutritionist Michelle Kleinman, Meals on Wheels Director of Senior Services Jean Labosco and local senior citizens at the Nyack Farmers Market, to announce the new Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
"I am so proud to be here and stand with Sen. Carlucci," said Labosco. "We are so grateful to the senator for assisting us in spreading the word about this program in order to get fresh and healthy produces to seniors in our community."
"The Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program is not only helping the local farmers keep their farms alive, we are contributing to the overall well-being of our local economy," Carlucci said. "These coupons are spent here, where the money stays in the community and that is extremely important."
According to the USDA, more than 150,000 farmers, ranchers and agricultural entrepreneurs now sell products directly to consumers -- over $1.5 billion nationwide last year.
Local sales also generate jobs. A 2011 USDA reports found that fruit and vegetable farms selling to local and regional markets employ 13 full-time workers per $1 million in revenue -- versus only three such workers when not selling locally.Carlucci discussed the details of the program:
- Seniors must be 60 or older and receiving benefits from Supplement Security Income, public assistance, food stamps, HEAP or Section 8 Housing -- or earn less than $1,815 a month for a single senior, or $2,456 for a couple.
- Eligible seniors will receive a booklet of five checks worth $4 each, to be used at farmers markets in New York.
- Seniors must contact the local county Office for the Aging to receive the checks: they fill out one form and receive the booklet on the spot.
- Farmers must sign up annually to participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program with a manager of the market in which they plan to sell their products. There's no fee for them to participate, but they must submit applications annually.
The Nyack Farmers Market is one of many in Rockland County who participate in this program. Others are Haverstraw, Ossining, Piermont, Ramapo, Spring Valley and Suffern.
"I want to thank Sen. Carlucci because he is looking to put the money where the seniors' mouths are," said Kleinman. "We all know that eating healthy is better for our seniors' cognitive health, eyes, blood pressure and overall health. All of this can only help our seniors age in place, which is important to everyone in the community."
"This is about health, our economy and quality of life for seniors. I will continue to spread the word and promote the Farmers Market Nutrition Program because this is something every low-income senior should be taking advantage of," Carlucci said.