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Coupon books for Farmers’ Markets

Providing fresh fruits and vegetables to local communities, Queens area farmers’ markets are a hit among residents and newly picked food enthusiasts.
One of the unique aspects of the New York markets is through a government-funded program whereby seniors can obtain coupon books with $20 worth of checks (ten $2 vouchers) to use at any of the 85 participating farmers’ markets through November 15.
“The advantage [over grocery stores] is the produce is fresher and better shaped,” Director of Community Markets Miriam Hass said.
Community Markets runs three farmers’ markets in Queens including ones in the Botanical Garden, Jamaica and the New York Hall of Science. Buying food at the market allows the seniors to get fresh produce which is better for their diet and good for the economy because the money goes to local farmers, said Hass.
“[I was] totally for it,” Hass said. “The senior population is from a generation where people cooked.”
Farmers’ markets allow people to find out where their food is coming from, Hass said. It also allows them the opportunity to interact with the farmers who grow the food and learn about the art of farming.
“There is a connection to where the food is coming from,” Hass said. “We make sure they are the ones growing it.
Hass said that the seniors purchasing produce from the farmers’ market can help them remember their younger years.
“It’s an outing for some of them,” Hass said. “Or they can do it as individuals.”
The Department for the Aging spokesperson Mira Browne agreed with Hass, saying the chance to go to the market allows many seniors the opportunity to get out and get some exercise in addition to being social.
“They go can along and shop with a friend,” Browne said.
The program has been around since 2001 and Browne said it has been a major success. The department gives out over 25,000 coupon books every year.
“Fresh fruits and vegetables are essential for a healthy diet,” Browne said.
Unfortunately, Browne said all the coupon books have been given away for this year. If a senior wants to get the coupons, they need to contact their local senior center director. The director will then speak to the department to get enough coupons to cover the need. There are over 330 senior centers in the five boroughs.

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