Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)

The amount of fruits and vegetables that is necessary for both preventing and treating health issues is less than one-third of elderly citizens in the United States. The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), which encourages elders to purchase fresh vegetables from local farmers, tackles this public health issue.

What is Seniors Farmers' Market Nutrition Program?

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged/redeemed for eligible foods at farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs and roadside stands. The program aims to improve low-income seniors' access to nutritious, local foods and to support the growth and development of local markets.

Low-income seniors can get coupons from SFMNP to use at participating farmers' markets, roadside stands and CSA program to purchase fruits, herbs, vegetables, and honey. A companion initiative called the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) focuses on low-income seniors, who are generally regarded as those who are at least 60 years old and whose family incomes do not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty threshold.

The SFMNP is run by state agencies, who give out coupons to low-income seniors and give permission for farmers' markets, roadside stands, and CSAs to take them. While state agencies may add to those amounts with state, municipal, or private funding, eligible seniors may receive SFMNP benefits between $20 and $50 annually.

Key Facts of Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program

  • The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program enables senior citizens to get free access to fresh food from nearby farms, roadside stands, and CSAs.
  • The Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program is another financial resource you can use when it’s time to replenish your fridge.
  • The SFMNP assists around 800,000 elderly people from low-income households each year.
  • For qualifying low-income seniors, the SFMNP offers farmers' market coupons (SFMNP vouchers) that can be used to purchase approved foods from farmers.
  • You must be at least 60 years old and have a family income that is at or below 185% of the federal poverty level in order to be eligible for SFMNP.

How Does the SFMNP Work ?

Since 2001, SFMNP has been managed by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Grants are given by the FNS to authorized agencies. The program is funded by the government through the Farm Bill. Federal funding cover the costs of the program's meals in 90% of cases, and its administrative expenditures in 10% of cases.

The procedure is streamlined and easy for customers. Farmers' market coupons are distributed by each state department, which you can use to purchase your vegetables. These certificates must be redeemed by accredited farmers, farmers' markets, CSAs, and owners of roadside stands before being submitted to the proper agency for payment.

History and Funding of SFMNP

SFMNP was started in 2001 as a USDA pilot project intended to improve the diets of low-income seniors. The initiative was made indefinitely legal by the 2002 Farm Bill, which also allocated $15 million annually for its implementation and nationwide expansion. Mandatory funding was raised in the 2008 Farm Bill to $20.6 million year, and it remained at that level in the Farm Bills of 2014 and 2018.

Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program Funding 

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Who is Eligible for the SFMNP ?

The Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) serves low-income seniors, generally defined as individuals who are at least 60 years old and who have household incomes of not more than 185 percent of the federal Poverty Guidelines.

When you apply for the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, you might not even be required to provide proof of your household's income. For the purpose of determining SFMNP eligibility, certain State agencies accept documentation of participation or enrollment in another means-tested program, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

SFMNP is currently administered by 54 State entities, mostly through departments of health, agriculture, or ageing. Farmers, farmers markets, roadside stands, and CSAs must apply for authorization from those state organisations in order to obtain SFMNP benefits. While each state has its own requirements, generally speaking becoming approved entails attending a brief course and signing a formal contract with the state. A vendor cannot be approved if they only sell fruit that has been cultivated by another party, such as wholesale distributors.

To find out if you're eligible, click here.

What Types of Foods are Part of SFMNP ?

Eligible foods include locally grown, herbs, fresh vegetables, honey and fruits. Vegetables and fruits must be fresh and in their raw form.

Eligible Food List :

Fresh, wholesome, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs that are fit for human consumption are considered eligible foods. Except for routine harvesting and cleaning procedures, eligible items may not be processed or cooked in any way that deviates from their natural condition. Under this program, only fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, and freshly cut herbs may be offered.

Basil, Borage, Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Epazote, Fennel, Garlic, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Shiso, Sorrel, Tarragon, and Thyme are some examples of freshly cut cooking herbs.

Foods Not Eligible :

SFMNP coupons cannot be used to purchase non-local and non-grown products.

Oranges, mangoes, lemons, and limes, as well as bananas and pineapples, are some examples of citrus fruits. Aloe, lamb's ear, catnip, rue, white sage, lavender, echinacea, bee balm, chamomile, and St. John's wort are examples of other herbs that cannot be purchased with coupons. No home-processed foods, meats, eggs, or cheese are permitted. Sun-dried tomatoes, dried chilli peppers, raisins, prunes (dried plums), and other dried fruits or vegetables are not regarded as acceptable foods. Wild rice, nuts of any kind (even uncooked), potted or dried herbs, potted fruit or vegetable plants, maple syrup, cider, and molasses are also prohibited.

How Much is the SFMNP Assistance ?

You'll receive between $20 to $50 each year, if you're qualified for the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Additionally, individual agencies may add state, local or donor funding to these benefits.

Only one check booklet may be given to eligible seniors during the season, which runs from May to September (Quantities are limited).

Perhaps twenty dollars doesn't seem like much. However, keep in mind that purchasing your produce directly from the growers might result in prices that are significantly lower than those you would pay at the grocery store, and if you combine your SFMNP aid with SNAP benefits at the farmer's market, you can get even more for your money.

How to Apply for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program ?

SFMNP benefits application information can be obtained by contacting the State agency in your area. You must first determine the agency in charge of running the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program in your state. Visit the USDA's state agency contact map to do that.

Be sure to reach out directly to your local administrative office for specific information and guidance because the actual application process can differ. The SFMNP State Agency Contacts page contains a list of SFMNP State agencies.

Contact SFMNP

For more information, visit the SFMNP page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Purpose of Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program ?
The SFMNP's goal is to give low-income seniors with access to fresh, wholesome, unprocessed vegetables, cut herbs, and raw honey at Certified Farmers' Markets. Seniors who participate in the SFMNP federal/state cooperation receive produce vouchers and nutrition instruction to help them diversify and improve their diets while learning how to choose, store, and prepare fresh food.

What happens if an elderly person can't get to a market or farm stand?
On their application, seniors may name an authorized shopper who will be allowed to pick up the produce on their behalf. Up to two more persons may be purchased for by one person.

Can I receive SFMNP and SNAP benefits at the same time?
Yes, neither program is exclusive of the other. Both can actually help you stretch your grocery budget more when used in tandem.

Is the SFMNP the same as SNAP?
No, Both programs assist eligible seniors in finding better food options, but they are independently funded and run.

For the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program, who is qualify?
If a senior is at least 60 years old and their household income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level, they are entitled to receive SFMNP coupons. Through FNS, more details on eligibility requirements are accessible.

What resources are there for the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition program?
To learn how to be approved to collect SFMNP benefits, interested farmers, farmers markets, roadside stands, and CSAs should get in touch with the appropriate state agencies. Visit the USDA website (senior farmers' market nutrition program locations) to learn more about the state administrative organisations that are taking part and how to get in touch with the coordinator.

Where can I get Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program check booklet? 
The Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and CDFA collaborate. The SFMNP Check Booklets are distributed to qualified seniors at a few distribution locations with assistance from local AAAs. Find out where SFMNP checks will be distributed in your county by contacting your local AAA right away. List of AAA contacts by county