Queens councilwoman applauds return of crucial nutrition initiative serving city’s seniors

NYC Aging has resumed an initiative to connect older New Yorkers to farmers’ markets and fruit stands across the five boroughs.
Photo courtesy of NYC Aging

A Queens lawmaker is hailing the return of a vital initiative from the city’s Department for the Aging.

The agency is once again distributing Farmers’ Market nutrition program coupon booklets at more than 300 participating older adult centers and naturally occurring retirement communities across the five boroughs. Coupon booklets are redeemable at participating farmers’ markets and fruit stands citywide.

Councilwoman Lynn Schulman, the chair of the Committee on Health, said the resumption of the initiative is good news for the seniors in her district which includes the neighborhoods of Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill.

“As someone who represents a district with a significant amount of older adults, it is amazing we are making healthy, sustainable food more accessible for our older population,” Schulman said. “We are only as strong as our most vital communities, and creating equitable access like this to keep our older adult population healthy makes all of us stronger as a community.”

A coupon booklet distribution event happened Monday morning at the Knickerbocker Naturally Occurring Retirement Community in lower Manhattan.

NYC Aging held its first distribution event Monday at the Knickerbocker Naturally Occurring Retirement Community in lower Manhattan. This year, NYC Aging will be distributing 50,000 coupon booklets valued at $25 each, the most booklets in the history of the program.

“Providing good food options for older New Yorkers has always been a goal of NYC Aging and all our older adult centers, and the annual Farmers Market Nutrition Program allows them to access even more nutritious food,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “For older New Yorkers, this makes a real difference, and I am pleased we are able to increase the number of coupons to be distributed this year through this program than ever before.”

Mayor Eric Adams, a self-professed vegan, has made access to healthy foods a cornerstone of his administration.

“Making sure New Yorkers are able to access nutritious food has been a top priority of my administration, and through this program, older residents can purchase fruits and vegetables right in their backyard,” Adams said. “Eating healthy comes with countless benefits not just for our body, but our minds as well, no matter how old you are. I encourage all New Yorkers to make fruits and vegetables a part of their everyday diet.”

The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which is a federally funded initiative by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, endeavors to promote improved nutrition through increased consumption of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, while simultaneously increasing the sales at farmers’ markets and fruit stands in New York. Coupons are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis and are open to all eligible older adults.

Photos courtesy of NYC Aging

“The Farmers Market Nutrition Program is crucial programming that older adults in my community and across the city rely on. That is why I am so excited to see this program return again this year” said Bronx Councilwoman Amanda Farias, chair of the Committee on Economic Development. “This program provides opportunities for residents to access nutritious food by connecting them to fresh produce at local farmers markets, while simultaneously supporting farmers and agricultural businesses. Initiatives like this not only increase access to quality food, but also support our local economies. Thank you to the NYC Department for the Aging for spearheading this great program.”

Older New Yorkers can learn more about the program and find a list of participating farmers’ markets and fruit stands by visiting NYC Aging’s website. They can also ask where they can receive a coupon booklet by calling Aging Connect at 212-AGING-NYC (212-244-6469). Coupons must be used before they expire on Nov. 30, 2023.

“New York City’s Department for the Aging’s Farmers Market Nutrition Program is integral to the health and well-being of our older neighbors, who are among some of our most vulnerable community members,” said Brooklyn Councilwoman Crystal Hudson, Chair of the Committee on Aging. “One-in-10 older New Yorkers are food insecure and it is vitally important that we do all we can to ensure older adults have access to nutritional meals and culturally sensitive foods. The Farmers Market Nutrition Program is a tangible step to not only curbing food insecurity, but ensuring older New Yorkers have access to fresh and healthy options when they are grocery shopping.”