Week 3: Help hungry seniors get fresh food

elderly man biting apple

  • Millions of older Americans are at risk for hunger. In 2014, 10.2 million older Americans faced the threat of hunger, representing 15.8% of adults aged 60+ in the U.S.
  • Food insecurity is growing among older adults. The food insecurity rate for all senior households was 8.3% in 2015, down slightly from the year before but up from 5.5% in 2001. At the same time, the percentage of seniors facing the threat of hunger has more than doubled.

To help address senior hunger, on one day in June every year, county governments give out vouchers to low-income seniors to help introduce them to farmers market shopping and to make the fresh fruits and vegetables there more affordable. This year the distribution date is tomorrow — Tuesday, June 13. Here in Allegheny County, the Area Agencies on Aging are the distribution sites for the federally-funded senior citizen Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) vouchers. The vouchers are valued at $5 and each senior can get four of them to purchase produce at area farmers markets.

Seniors must be 60 or older by December 31st of the program year and meet the income eligibility guidelines (below).

2017 Allegheny County Senior FMNP flyer1. Help a Senior get their farmers market vouchers on Tuesday, June 13 (tomorrow)!

Tell a senior you know about the Farmers Market Voucher distribution that will take place on Tuesday, June 13th and what it takes to be eligible. If they are eligible, offer them a ride to a distribution event since transportation can often be a major barrier to obtaining this type of assistance.

Here are the distribution locations and times (pdf)

Any senior who is eligible for the senior voucher program is most likely eligible for food stamps as well. So taking action tomorrow is a great way to also introduce them to our Fresh Access and Food Bucks program and to assistance getting Food Stamps (below).

2. Help a senior use Fresh Access at one of 21 area farmers markets!

Once at the market, senior vouchers can be redeemed for produce with local farmers. (Please note that these vouchers need to be signed for farmers to redeem them, and no change can be given.)

If the senior you’re with also receives food stamps, come to the Just Harvest or market manager’s tent and help introduce them to the Fresh Access Program! At the tent, shoppers can swipe their ACCESS or credit/debit cards and receive tokens that can be used to pay for items at the cash-only market. For every $5 spent in food stamps, we will provide Food Bucks, an additional $2 coupon that can be used to purchase fresh produce.

Here is the schedule of Allegheny county farmers markets offering Fresh Access and accepting Senior FMNP vouchers.

3. Help a senior get food stamps!

In the U.S., over 4.8 million low-income adults over age 60 rely on benefits from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assitance Program (SNAP or “food stamps) to stay healthy and make ends meet. On average, they receive $108 per month to help put food on the table.

Yet 3 out of 5 seniors who qualify for SNAP do not participate. This means that 5.2 million seniors miss out on benefits

Any senior who is eligible for the Farmer’s Market Voucher Distribution program is most likely eligible for food stamps as well. And there is now a new faster, easier application process for eligible seniors called ESAP.

If your senior doesn’t receive food stamps but would like to know if they qualify, have them call Just Harvest for a free 5 minute screening at (412) 431-8960 ext. 602. If eligible, our food stamp specialists can help them apply for benefits and answer any questions they may have.


Thank you for helping a hungry senior! And thanks to the National Council on Aging for their facts about senior hunger.

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