USDA GRANT WILL BENEFIT ALABAMA FARMERS AND SENIOR CITIZENS
"MONTGOMERY, Ala." Alabama farmers and senior citizens will benefit from a $710,840 grant that will allow an estimated 17,770 low-income seniors to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from Alabama producers.
The Alabama Farmers Market Authority will be the recipient of a USDA grant called Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Pilot Program (SFMNPP), according to Don Wambles, administrator of the State of Alabama Farmers Market Authority.
The SFMNP Program was announced in November and its goals were to improve the diets of low-income seniors, increase the sales of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs at farmers markets, roadside stands and community-supported agricultural programs.
The program also seeks to develop new or assist expanding markets, roadside stands and community-supported programs.
"This is an exciting program because it will impact Alabama growers across the state by exposing them to more of the public and helping their bottom line," said Brain Hardin, director of the Farmers Federation's Horticulture Division. "At the same time, many senior citizens will benefit as well."
A list of Alabama senior citizens who qualify for the program will be developed by the Alabama Department of Senior Services (formerly the Commission on Aging) and the State Department of Human Resources Food Stamp Division. Eligible participants will be notified by one of these departments, Wambles said.
The funds given to eligible senior participants are redeemable only at farmers markets certified by the State Farmers Market Authority and can only be accepted by farmers who have been certified to participate in the program.
"This program will increase farmers' client base and incomes and will provide low-income seniors with nutritious Alabama-grown fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs," Wambles said. "We all stand to benefit from a healthier senior population and the economic stimulus that will be felt by many local economies throughout Alabama. This program is an example of direct marketing in which everyone benefits."