Kaptur marks ninth year for senior nutrition program through AOoAWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | email@example.com
Betty Wesley walked away from a mini-farmers market with a bag stocked full of fresh fruits and veggies, a luxury she said she can enjoy because she qualifies for money from the Area Office on Aging’s nutrition program.
The federally funded program allocates approximately $21 million nationwide to give low-income people who are 60 or older $50 farmers market coupons. About $1 million of that annually comes to Northwest Ohio, said Rebecca Liebes, director of nutrition and wellness.
“Seniors can supplement their diet with foods that they would frankly not otherwise be able to afford including staples,” said U.S. House Rep. Marcy Kaptur.
Kaptur came to the mini farmer’s market on Aug. 6 to celebrate the ninth year that the United States Department of Agriculture has funded the program in the area, supplying 21,320 older people with coupons so they can afford fresh fruits and veggies.
Seniors who live alone qualify for the $50 coupons each summer if his or her annual income is $20,035 or less. A household of two qualifies if the income is $26,954.
Since Kaptur started the program in 2001, the area has received more than $10 million and served more than 36,000 low-income seniors.
“We do have stacks of letters on our desks about folks who haven’t had a raspberry for over 40 years until this program,” Liebes said. “As a nutritionist, I’m really proud that our older adults do recognize the value of fruits and vegetables.”
Kaptur said she wants to increase the number of participating farmers and also transform local gardens into businesses to try to encourage more people to buy local food and keep their money within the Toledo area.
Coupons are awarded on a first-come-first-serve basis and this year, the Office on Aging had to turn down 1,344 seniors, according to the news release.
To apply for next summer’s coupons, seniors need to fill out an application and send it to Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio at 2155 Arlington Ave. Seniors can call (419) 382-0624 for information on applications.