Program to get low-income seniors free fruits, vegetables at Ky. farmers’ markets, which usually starts June 1, delayed to July 1

Published 3:03 pm Monday, June 20, 2022

Low-income seniors who are at risk of poor nutrition have been unable to get free fruits and vegetables from Kentucky farmers’ markets this month, but the state Department of Agriculture says it will get the program going again July 1, Jack Brammer reports for the Northern Kentucky Tribune.

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program normally begins June 1 but has been delayed because the bank the department used “no longer processes paper vouchers and the department had to find a new way for the payments,” Brammer reports, citing Kirk Hilbrecht, spokesman for Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles. “Hilbrecht said the delay was due to a need to switch payments to participants this year from paper vouchers to electronic cards with a QR code or an app on a smart phone.”
The federally funded program covers about 12,500 Kentuckians and 103 farmers’ markets in the state. To participate, a person must have passed their 60th birthday and must meet income guidelines listed on the department’s website at https://www.kyagr.com/consumer/senior-farmer-market.html. The site also lists products that can be bought at the farmers’ markets .Tyler Offerman, food justice fellow for the Kentucky Equal Justice Center in Lexington, told Brammer that he has “heard from several program participants that the changes caught them by surprise and communication about delays has been confusing.”