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Senior citizens can be overlooked as a population affected by food insecurity; they have fixed incomes and rely on government assistance for access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Missouri SFMNP provides these low-income seniors funds to make those purchases at farmers markets during the market season. The MO SFMNP also has an added economic impact on Missouri farmers, who bring home additional income when accepting senior vouchers.
Cultivate KC has operated a match on through the Kansas SFMNP since its inception as “Beans & Greens.” Seniors in Kansas are given $30 by the state and Cultivate KC matches funds to $60 as well. Cultivate KC also manages the Double Up Food Bucks program, which matches SNAP dollars at KC area farmers markets.
“We’ve provided matching funds for the Kansas SFMNP program for years,” Kathleen Foster said. Foster is the Nutrition Incentives Program manager for Cultivate KC. “We are excited not only to provide the match, but also to facilitate the program on the Missouri side of the metro.”
Food insecurity, or the inability to reliably access nutritious food, is a major problem for low-income seniors and has serious health implications. In a 2018 report on Senior Hunger in the United States, Feeding America indicates that 1 in 12 seniors are food insecure. Further, 8.3 percent of seniors in Kansas and 6.2 percent of seniors in Missouri report having limited access to food due to lack of money. The report notes that the seniors who lack access to healthy foods are more likely to have chronic health conditions such as depression, asthma, chest pain, limited mobility and high blood pressure.
Additionally, it finds that poor health can be both a cause and consequence of food insecurity and that poorer nutrition increases risk for disease and increases the challenges of disease management.
Cultivate KC has been working for the past year with other local organizations to move this legislation forward and to help the state implement the program in 2019. Right now farmers are applying to and being trained on the process to accept coupons and vouchers, while Foster is working to distribute the state vouchers and Cultivate KC coupons to seniors through the Mid-America Regional Council (MARCH)-administered senior centers in the KCMO region.
Cultivate KC is seeking volunteers to help with distribution. If interested, please fill out out the Volunteer Interest Form (below) and waiver of liability and indicate your interest in the MO SFMNP work in the Notes section.