Low-income Seniors Get Fresh at Local Farmers Markets

When we say "get fresh," we mean it! You can buy wonderfully fresh and nutritious produce and organic products at farmers markets throughout King County.

Farmers market produce is high-quality and as fresh as can be because it doesn't have to travel very far. That means it's not harvested and stored for a long time. When a particular produce item is in season (i.e., when it ripens naturally), it's generally less expensive when purchased at a farmers market.

To encourage lower-income older adults to explore fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Washington State DSHS Aging and Long-term Support Administration partner with local Area Agencies on Aging to distribute Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers (checks) worth $40 at farmers markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs.

Applications for the 2015 Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program will be available on the program website through Friday, May 15.

Qualified applicants are King County residents age 60 or older (age 55 or older if American Indian/Alaska Native) with lower incomes—specifically, below 185 percent of Federal Poverty Level (FPL). In real terms, that means someone who meets the age requirement must have a monthly income at or below $1,815 if he or she lives alone or $2,456 for a household of two. For larger households, the FPL formula adds $641 per month per person.

"We want to inspire King County seniors to visit their local farmers market," said Maureen Linehan, director of Aging and Disability Services, the agency that oversees the program in King County. "Thanks to state support, we've been able to help more than 2,000 older adults take advantage of fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, and other farmers market products each year."

Applications are available on the program website or by calling any of the organizations listed below.

  • African American Elders Program: 206-328-6840
  • Asian Counseling & Referral Service: 206-695-7510
  • Chinese Information & Service Center: 206-624-5633 ext 4178
  • Latino Information & Assistance: 206-764-4700
  • Neighborhood House: 206-571-5080
  • Russian Information & Assistance (Irina at JFS): 206-861-8787
  • Seattle Mayor's Office for Senior Citizens: 206-684-0500
  • Senior Information & Assistance (206-448-3110 or 1-888-4-ELDERS)

Because funds are limited, a random selection process is used to select recipients. Completed applications must be postmarked on or before May 15, 2015. All applicants will receive mail notification of their status on or before July 1.

For a list of local markets, visit the Washington State Farmers Market Association website.

To read the Top 10 Reasons to Shop at a Farmers Market, click here.