Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Mike Strain, DVM, encourages senior citizens 60 and older who meet certain income requirements to contact their parish Council on Aging to participate in the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). (In New Orleans, contact Catholic Charities).
All participants must be 60 years old and have a household income of not more than 185% of the poverty level. For one person in the household, the annual household income level would be $20,147 or less and for two persons in the household, the annual household income level would be $27,214 or less. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry secured a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to participate in the 2012 program allowing senior citizens to buy locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, cut herbs and honey at farmers markets and roadside stands.
Through the grant, those who qualify will receive a book of six $4-coupons ($24). The FMNP coupons may only be used to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, cut herbs and honey approved by the Louisiana Farmers Market Nutrition Program from farmers at approved farmers markets and roadside stands (or farm stands). Farmers cannot give change for coupons; therefore, each purchase must be at least $4. Coupons are not permitted for grocery stores or non-participating farmers. Only farmers that have signed "Farmer Participation Agreements" with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry may accept the coupons. Current issue coupons will expire November 30, 2012. Seniors who receive coupons also will receive a directory, listing participating farmers markets and roadside stands where the coupons may be spent.
Seniors who received coupons in 2011 will not automatically receive a new booklet. Seniors who qualify for the coupons must go to their local parish Council on Aging to re-apply for the program. (In New Orleans, contact Catholic Charities).
Seniors who receive commodities through the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Food for Seniors Program; those who have a Letter of Eligibility for the Louisiana Purchase Card (SNAP); those who have a Letter of Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI); or those who receive Medicaid are pre-qualified for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program because the income level to qualify for those programs is less than for this program. Those who pre-qualify still need to complete an application for the farmers market coupons in order to participate.
For more information about the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, call 985-345-9483.