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Farmers Markets Encourage Healthy Eating

Ohio farmers grow some of the most delicious sweet corn, tomatoes and peaches that can be found anywhere on earth. Mmmmmmmm – just thinking about that luscious bounty makes the summertime heat and humidity (essential for those crops) easier to bear. The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program makes buying fresh produce more fun and affordable while extending food budgets.

To encourage older Ohioans to make fresh and healthy food choices, the senior nutrition program offers vouchers good at farmers’ markets in 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Go online to find out which counties offer the farmers’ market vouchers, or call toll free 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the area agency on aging in your county.

“Seniors struggling to make ends meet – to pay utility bills or buy medicine – are very likely to qualify for help to buy groceries, but only a third of eligible seniors are getting that assistance,” said Tamara James, who directs benefits outreach projects for AARP Ohio.

James trains and leads AARP Ohio volunteers in reaching out to connect seniors with the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which replaced food stamps with debit cards. Almost all grocery stores accept the cards, and so do many nutrition programs offered at senior centers and other community sites. (Learn more about SNAP.)
“The cards have reduced some of the stigma attached to food stamps, but older Ohioans still are reluctant to ask for help that they are entitled to,” she said. “Eating right is essential for good health, and so is staying cool indoors when temperatures are high and air quality is low. Saving money on groceries means more means more money for other necessities, like prescription drugs and utilities.”

AARP Ohio volunteers work in several communities to help older Ohioans see if they may be eligible and to apply for assistance programs that help pay for food, medicine and utilities. They also are reaching out to encourage family members and friends to use the AARP Benefits QuickLINK online program to help older Ohioans they know see if they might qualify for assistance.

In these troubled times, AARP is encouraging Americans across the nation to use our Create the Good® toolkit to help those who need it.