Senior Project FRESH/Market FRESH
What is the SFMNP?
The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) awards grants to states, United States territories, and federally-recognized Indian tribal governments to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs. The grant funds may be used only to support the costs of the foods that are provided under the SFMNP; no administrative funding is available at the federal level.
What is the purpose of the SFMNP?
The program purposes are to:
- Provide resources in the form of fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits and vegetables from farmers’ markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs to low-income seniors.
- Increase the domestic consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by expanding or aiding in the expansion of domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community support agriculture programs.
- Develop or aid in the development of new and additional farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community support agriculture programs.
Who is eligible for SFMNP benefits?
Low-income seniors, generally defined as individuals who are at least 60 years old with household incomes of not more than 185% of the federal poverty income, are the targeted recipients of SFMNP benefits. Michigan accepts proof of participation or enrollment in a means-tested program, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program or the Food Stamp Program, for SFMNP eligibility.
When does the SFMNP operate?
SFMNP coupons are provided to eligible seniors for use during the harvest season. In Michigan, coupons are distributed starting on June 1 and continue until all the coupons are distributed. All coupons must be redeemed by October 31 of the same year.
How does the SFMNP operate?
In Michigan, counties raise money to cover the cost of coupons. This is usually done through partnerships including Michigan State University Extension (MSUE), regional Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and local Commissions on Aging. The money raised is then matched by the Michigan Office of Services to the Aging (OSA). Each county has flexibility in determining how the coupons are distributed and the role(s) of each agency involved in the partnership. Eligible participants or households receive up to twenty $2 coupons to use throughout the summer to purchase fresh, unprepared or unprocessed, locally grown produce from authorized Michigan farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
What foods are available through the SFMNP?
Fresh, nutritious, unprocessed fruits and vegetables can be purchased with SFMNP benefits. Michigan limits SFMNP sales to Michigan grown produce in order to encourage SFMNP recipients to support Michigan farmers. Foods not eligible for purchase include dried fruits or vegetables such as prunes, raisins, sun-dried tomatoes or dried chili peppers. Potted fruit or vegetable plants, potted or dried herbs, wild rice, nuts of any kind (even raw), maple syrup, cider, and molasses are also not allowed. In 2005, Michigan added parsley to the list of eligible foods. For a complete list of eligible foods for 2011, please click here.
Who has administrative responsibility for the SFMNP?
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service administers the SFMNP grants. In Michigan, Senior Project FRESH is administered by the Office of Services to the Aging (OSA) in Lansing. OSA partners with the Michigan Department of Community Health – WIC Division and Michigan State University Extension (MSUE). For 2006, OSA has identified MSUE as the lead agency in those counties that are able to participate.
What is the current funding level?
Congress authorized $15 million annually for the SFMNP through 2007. In FY 2005, $15 million were allocated to 47 SFMNP grantees. Michigan received $72,000. OSA used that money to provide match for counties that raised funds locally. In 2006, 36 counties participated and raised over $50,000 in local monies. Over 8,000 coupon books were distributed.