Eligible farmers, farmers markets and other local aggregators have a unique opportunity to help distribute fresh, local produce to seniors across California. The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program may look a little different during COVID but the state and federal government are finding new ways to keep the program running.
Last year, as the pandemic made it more challenging for seniors — due to market closures or out of safety concerns — to participate in farmers markets, the California Department of Food and Agriculture teamed up with the California Association of Food Banks (CAFB) to get the same fresh produce to hungry seniors. CAFB worked with local farmers and farmers markets to deliver more than 20,000 produce boxes to 7 food banks that, in turn, redistributed to seniors.
“We were very grateful to have been included in the SFMNP bulk produce boxes last year. CAFB was very easy to work with and always quick to respond to questions. They were also flexible when we needed to amend our original proposal to meet the product availability of our farmers. These boxes were a great resource for our farmers and local seniors, many of whom only receive fresh produce through programs like this,” said Megan Kenney, North Coast Growers’ Association Manager of Cooperative Distribution.
Previous participants also shared with CAFF that the produce box can be a lot all at once for some seniors, so it’s important to think about adding items that store well and include information on how to properly store them.
This year, 9 different food banks are participating across Northern, Central and Southern California, increasing the number and amount of distribution; food banks in Bakersfield, Eureka, Garden Grove, Oxnard, Redding, Salinas, San Diego, San Francisco, and Yuba City are all participating. Ideally, that will make distribution points even easier for individual farmers and local markets.
- Eligible farmers must be a current Farmers Market Nutrition (FMNP) authorized farmers and have a six digit WIC (Women, Infant and Children) identification number. Farmers can confirm their eligibility here.
- Farmers, farmers markets and other aggregators must maintain minimum liability insurance equivalent to the cost of the items they are selling.
Apply for the RFP and learn more from CAFB here.
CAFF hopes things will look different next year, and seniors can again fully return to farmers markets and make use of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program there.