Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food – Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) | USDA

Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP)

Type: Nutrition assistance

Max Award: Varies by state, payments range from $15-$50 per person each year

Big Idea: To provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey at farmers' markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and to promote the use and expansion of farmers' markets, roadside stands, and CSA programs throughout the country.

Who Can Apply: Low-income seniors, generally defined as individuals who are at least 60 years old and who have household incomes of not more than 185% of the federal poverty income guidelines

Possibilities: State agencies have considerable flexibility in the type of program model they choose to provide SFMNP benefits to eligible senior participants:

  • Most States use a coupon model, in which checks or coupons are issued to each participant, who then takes the checks or coupons to an authorized farmers' market or roadside stand. In 2010, over 21,000 seniors visited 850 farmers, at 210 farmers' markets and 70 roadside stands to purchase locally-grown fruits and vegetables.
  • Some States purchase bulk quantities of fruits and vegetables directly from local farmers and then provide each participant with boxes or bags of produce on a regular basis throughout the harvest season. Each of West Virginia's 24,000 SFMNP participants received a five-pound bag of West Virginia-grown apples last year.
  • And a few States operate in cooperation with CSA programs, purchasing a share on behalf of each senior participant of selected farmers' harvests. Maine's FarmShare Program provided close to $1 million to its 141 participating farmers between May and October 2010 by signing up nearly 19,000 senior shareholders through the SFMNP.

Real example: Fresh, nutritious, unprepared fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey may be purchased with SFMNP benefits.

Get more information: For more program information, please visit the Food and Nutrition Service's (FNS) Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) page, and to apply, please visit the FNS's SFMNP contacts page (the program is generally operated through State departments of agriculture or health and is currently in 51 states, territories, and Indian Tribal Organizations).