State farmers market programs, including newly expanded FreshConnect Checks Program, support access to fresh food
√ Encourages consumers to visit their local farmers market this summer and shop local
New York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced several programs are available to help low-income families, veterans, service members, and older adults purchase fresh, healthy foods at local farmers’ markets through the department’s Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) and FreshConnect Checks Program. New York state has over 700 farmers’ markets, farm stands and mobile markets participating in the FMNP and FreshConnect Checks programs, supplying healthy homegrown foods to communities across the state.
Ball said, "Every New Yorker deserves access to local, farm-fresh food that keeps them healthy and makes them feel good. Here in New York, we are lucky to be home to some of the best growers and producers in the country, and farmers’ markets are critical tools that connect producers directly to consumers, enhance our local food supply chain, and bolster the New York state agricultural industry. We want to ensure that everyone who is eligible knows that they can tap into programs like our FreshConnect Checks and Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program to purchase healthy, delicious, local foods."
New York State Office for the Aging Director Greg Olsen said, "NYSOFA is proud to partner with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in supporting the nutritional health of older adults as well as the health of our farming economy. The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is extraordinarily popular and provides older adults with farm-fresh produce grown right in their community, offering many nutritional benefits to help prevent illness, improve brain health, maintain energy, and so much more. Farmers' markets also provide an important place for people to get out, see their neighbors and interact to overcome social isolation. To find out if you are eligible for this program, reach your local office for the aging by contacting NY Connects at 1-800-342-9871.”
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) promotes local producers by expanding their sales at farmers' markets and farm stands, and fosters healthy communities though the consumption of locally grown foods. Consumers who are eligible are provided with coupons to use for fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmers’ markets, farm stands, and mobile markets in New York. Low-income older adults (aged 60 years or older) or individuals enrolled in WIC, living in New York state, may be eligible to receive coupons. Older adults must contact their local county Office for the Aging for more information on where to receive Seniors Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) coupons. Individuals enrolled in WIC may contact their WIC clinic to ask how they can get coupons.
Earlier this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a new initiative to double the buying power for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients at farmers' markets across New York. The FreshConnect Fresh2You initiative now provides eligible New Yorkers with a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $50 per day at participating farmers’ markets, which allows families in need to purchase more healthy food, including produce, dairy and meats.
A press release stated, “This new initiative is part of the long-standing FreshConnect Checks Program, which is administered by the department. It helps expand access to fresh food in underserved communities, to improve the diet of individuals in those communities and to foster economic development by supporting local producers. By allowing the purchase of dairy products, meats and more in addition to the purchase of fruits and vegetables, the FreshConnect Checks Program supports even more producers across New York state.”
It added, “Farmers markets fill an essential gap in New York's local food supply chains by improving access to and encouraging consumption of locally grown foods and supporting direct farmer-to-consumer transactions. Farmers markets, farm stands and mobile markets are crucial components to a healthy food system. Today, New York has more than 400 farmers markets, 250 farm stands and 10 mobile market operators. They provide outlets for agricultural producers to meet the rising consumer demand for a variety of fresh, affordable and convenient products grown directly from the farm. New York state – through the Department of Agriculture and Markets, Department of Health, Office for the Aging and Office of Temporary Disability Assistance – administers several programs that help low-income families, including those enrolled in WIC and SNAP, older adults and veterans access fresh, healthy food at participating markets. To learn more about the department's farmers' market programs or to find a market nearby, visit https://agriculture.ny.gov/farmersmarkets.