USDA AWARDS $1 MILLION TO ALABAMA FARMERS MARKET PROGRAM
WASHINGTON -- The Alabama Farmers Market Authority (FMA) will receive $1 million in USDA grants for the
Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP). USDA announce the grant earlier this week along with Don Wambles, administrator of the State of Alabama Farmers Market Authority in Montgomery.
The SFMNP is a competitive grant program, Wambles said. Alabama's application was scored against all recipients and awards were made accordingly, he said.
"We are pleased with the announcement that our grant request was fully funded and is the fourth largest award among all recipients," said Wambles. "Our award will allow us to expand the SFMNP to all 67 counties one year ahead of our initial goal," added Wambles.
The Alabama SFMNP provides low-income seniors with cash benefits, in the form of coupons, for use during the 2004 harvest season. These coupons are used to purchase fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs only at farmers markets and farm stands certified by the FMA and can only be accepted by farmers who have been certified to participate in the program. Any Alabama farmer wishing to participate in the program should contact the FMA.
Eligible SFMNP recipients will meet both of the following criteria:
• AGE -- must be 60 years of age or older, and
• INCOME LEVEL -- Annual household gross income must fall at or below 185 percent of the U.S. Poverty Income Guidelines. Total annual income for the household mustnot exceed:
• Household of 1 - $17,224 ($1,435.00 Monthly)
• Household of 2 - $23,107 ($1,926.00 Monthly)
• Household of 3 - $29,156 ($2,430.00 Monthly)
The FMA has partnered with the Alabama Department of Public Health to administer the Womens, Infants and Children's Farmers Market Nutrition Program (WIC FMNP) since 1999. This year the Health Department has turned over full administration of this program to the FMA. Unlike the SFMNP, the WIC FMNP is not a competitive grant program, but a state plan must be submitted to USDA for approval and requires a 30percent state match to receive federal funds.
"We have been notified that our state plan request of $466,666 has been approved for a base grant amount equal to last year's funding of $239,850, and we are awaiting a response from our expansion funds request," Wambles said.
In Alabama since 1999, the SFMNP & WIC FMNP have provided resources to more than 180,576 low-income seniors, women, infants and children that enable them to purchase locally grown, fresh fruits and vegetables and to improve their diet and health while combating obesity and chronic diseases.
"FMNP coupon purchases alone generated in excess of $3.9 million in income for 1,198 small farmers selling at 57 farmers' markets and 136 farm stands in our state," said Wambles.
For further information please contact the State of Alabama Farmers Market Authority at 334-242-2618 or visit their website at www.fma.alabama.gov.