ODA modernizing Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program

Press Staff Writer

        To provide older Ohioans convenient access to fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey, the Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) is modernizing the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) for 2024 and beyond.
        Many eligible Ohioans ages 60 and older now have the choice to use a mobile application or a physical card to obtain nutritious produce at farmers markets across the state.
        “We wanted to make it easier for older Ohioans to bring healthy food options into their homes, while also supporting local farmers in their communities,” said ODA Director Ursel J. McElroy. “Modernizing the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program is a win for everybody and continues to build upon our agency’s work to reach more Ohioans with healthy lifestyle options that empower them to age well.”
        ODA is partnering with Homegrown Benefits to build and maintain the new SFMNP app. Ohioans can download the “Homegrown Benefits – for eFMNP” app on the Apple and Google Play stores. The Homegrown Benefits website will also allow Ohioans to manage their SFMNP accounts.
        All qualifying Ohioans receive $50 each year to be used at farmers markets throughout the state.
        Traditionally, participants received their benefits in the form of printed coupons in units of $5. Through the new app-based model, participants can use their benefits in any increment they choose, creating more flexibility and giving more power to older Ohioans.
        To be eligible for the program, Ohioans must be 60 or older and earn less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level. Ohioans can now apply for the program online at Aging.Ohio.gov/SFMNP. Ohioans must reapply every year to continue receiving benefits.
        The SFMNP is administered locally by Ohio’s Area Agencies on Aging, nearly all of which opted in to including their regions among those participating in the program modernization.
        Ohioans living in Athens, Hocking, Meigs, Morgan, Monroe, Noble, Perry, and Washington counties will still be able to participate, but they must sign up through Buckeye Hills Regional Council rather than utilizing ODA’s online form. For this program year, Ohioans in those counties will receive the traditional SFMNP coupons instead of having access to the app.
        Funding for the program modernization came from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). ODA was given nearly $4 million to expand the SFMNP’s offerings.
        Also as part of this year’s program upgrades, the SFMNP – previously only available to 81 of Ohio’s 88 counties – will now expand to include the entire state.
        Aligning with ODA’s vision to make Ohio the best place to age in the nation, the SFMNP increases access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables for older Ohioans while also providing opportunities for community and civic engagement. The program has been shown to enhance older Ohioans’ socialization while also educating them about where food comes from and how to make healthier choices.
        The program expansion is also expected to support Ohio’s food and agriculture industry. The initiative benefits Ohio’s farmers and farmers markets through greater agricultural revenue being brought to Ohio. The SFMNP also improves the local economy and strengthens Ohio’s food system.
        About ODA – The Ohio Department of Aging serves and advocates for the needs of Ohioans age 60 and older, as well as their families, caregivers and communities. Programs include home and community based long-term supports and services, as well as initiatives to promote health and wellness throughout the lifespan. To learn more, visit Aging.Ohio.gov.


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