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Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program


What is the SFMNP?
The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) awards grants to States, United States Territories, and federally-recognized Indian tribal governments to provide low-income seniors with coupons that can be exchanged for eligible foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs) at farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs. The majority of the grant funds must be used to support the costs of the foods that are provided under the SFMNP; State agencies may use up to 10 percent of their grants to support administrative costs for the program.

SFMNP Fact Sheet  (printer-friendly PDF).   

What is the purpose of the SFMNP?
The purposes of the Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program are to:

(1) Provide resources in the form of fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs from farmers' markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs to low-income seniors,

(2) Increase the domestic consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding or aiding in the expansion of domestic farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs, and

(3) Develop or aid in the development of new and additional farmers' markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs.

Where does the SFMNP operate?
In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, grants were awarded to 51 State agencies and federally recognized Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) to operate the SFMNP: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Chickasaw Nation (Oklahoma), Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Five Sandoval Pueblos (New Mexico), Florida, Georgia, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians (Michigan), Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Oklahoma, Osage Nation (Oklahoma), Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, San Felipe Pueblo (New Mexico), South Carolina, Standing Rock Sioux (North Dakota), Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Not all State agencies operate the SFMNP on a statewide basis.

Who is eligible for SFMNP benefits?
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 (published each year by the Department of Health and Human Services), are the targeted recipients of SFMNP benefits. Some State agencies accept proof of participation or enrollment in another means-tested program, such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, for SFMNP eligibility.

How many recipients are served?
In FY 2011, benefits were available to 863,097 low-income seniors from 19,069 farmers at 4,598 farmers' markets as well as 3,445 roadside stands and 141 community supported agriculture programs.

When does the SFMNP operate?
SFMNP benefits are provided to eligible recipients for use during the harvest season, which is generally May through October. In some States, the SFMNP season is shorter, because the growing season in that area is not very long. In other States with longer growing seasons, recipients have a longer period of time in which to use their SFMNP benefits.

How does the SFMNP operate?
The SFMNP is administered by State agencies such as State Department of Agriculture or Aging. As a prerequisite to receiving Federal funds for the SFMNP, each applying or participating State agency must submit a State Plan describing how the State agency intends to implement, operate and administer all aspects of the SFMNP within its jurisdiction. Coupons are issued to eligible SFMNP participants to buy eligible foods from farmers, farmers’ markets, roadside stands, or CSAs that have been approved by the State agency to accept SFMNP coupons. The farmers, farmers’ markets, roadside stands or CSA then submit the redeemed SFMNP coupons to the bank or State agency for reimbursement.

The Federal SFMNP benefit level, whether a household or individual, may not be less than $20 or no more than $50 per each farmers’ market calendar year, except for certain State agencies that were grandfathered in the SFMNP using a different benefit level. State agencies may also supplement the benefit level with State, local or private funds.

Nutrition education is provided to SFMNP recipients by the State agency, often through an arrangement with the local WIC agency. Other program partners may provide nutrition education and/or educational information to SFMNP recipients. For example, Cooperative Extension Programs, local Area Agencies on Aging, local chefs, farmers or farmers’ markets associations, and various other non-profit or for-profit organizations may provide nutrition education to SFMNP recipients. These educational arrangements help to encourage SFMNP recipients to improve and expand their diets by adding fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as educate them on how to select, store and prepare the fresh fruits and vegetables they buy with their SFMNP coupons.

List of Participating SFMNP State agencies - names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, and websites

What foods are available through the SFMNP?
Fresh, nutritious, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs can be purchased with SFMNP benefits. State agencies may limit SFMNP sales to specific foods that are locally grown in order to encourage SFMNP recipients to support the farmers in their own States. Certain foods are not eligible for purchase with SFMNP benefits; these include dried fruits or vegetables, such as prunes (dried plums), raisins (dried grapes), sun-dried tomatoes or dried chili peppers. Potted fruit or vegetable plants, potted or dried herbs, wild rice, nuts of any kind (even raw), maple syrup, cider, and molasses are also not allowed.

How does a farmer or farmers’ market become authorized to accept SFMNP?
Each State agency is responsible for authorizing individual farmers, farmers’ markets, roadside stands or all of the above. Only farmers, farmers’ markets, roadside stands and CSA authorized by the State agency may accept and redeem SFMNP coupons. Individuals, who exclusively sell produce grown by someone else, such as wholesale distributors, cannot be authorized to participate in the SFMNP. The SFMNP contact person for each State agency can be found at: http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/SeniorFMNP/SFMNPcontacts.htm 

What is the current funding level?
The 2008 Farm Bill provided $20.6 million annually to operate the Program through 2012.

What are the SFMNP grant levels by State?
SFMNP Grant levels by State

If you have other questions for FNS, email us at wichq-web@fns.usda.gov

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Last modified 06/29/12

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