LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential to a healthy diet but acquiring them costs more than processed foods, an issue the Kentucky Department of Agriculture has been trying to solve for more than a decade and now is offering to veterans.
The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program allows qualifying seniors to use vouchers at farmers' markets all over the state to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey.
The Agriculture Department started an additional arm as a pilot program in the spring of 2021 in four counties catering just to veterans. The counties include Christian, Hardin, Madison and Fayette.
Lexington-Fayette Social Worker Senior Jennifer Garland said the purpose of the program is "to bring fresh fruits and vegetables to seniors that are lower income. It's throughout Kentucky, it benefits the farmers, as well as the seniors. And it gets the seniors out and gets them those fresh fruits and vegetables that they really need."
Usually, Fayette County receives 250 vouchers for seniors but with the pilot program, it has an additional 250 vouchers worth $48 each to give just to veterans.
"You have to be age 60 or older, you have to meet income guidelines for this program, which is 185% of the federal poverty guidelines. And those guidelines are higher than a lot of other income-based programs so even if you don't qualify for SNAP or commodities or other income-based programs, you very well may qualify for this one. It's worth calling and asking," said Garland.
The Lexington Senior Center still has more than 200 vouchers to give away that are valid through the farmers market season that ends in October. To find out if you or your veteran qualify and to schedule an appointment to pick up a voucher, call the senior center at 859-278-6072.
Once approved, veterans have the opportunity to double their funds by going up to the information booth at any farmers' market and asking if there are funds still available.
The vouchers for veterans are accepted at the following Farmers' Markets:
- The Farmers' Market at Fifth-Third Bank Pavillion in Downtown Lexington on Saturdays
- The Farmers' Market on Southland Drive on Sundays
- The Farmers' Market near Rupp Arena on Tuesdays and Thursdays
- The Farmers' Market on Alexandria Drive on Wednesday evenings
- 40+ other farmers markets around Kentucky