Low-income seniors to have greater access to local food


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Low-income seniors will have assistance in purchasing home grown fruits and vegetables at the Gray Street Farmers Market scheduled to open Thursday, May 19. This is the first year the market is taking part in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP). Those eligible for this benefit are generally people at least 60-years-old with household incomes of no more than 185 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines.

    “This is one more way the Gray Street Farmers Market is expanding its reach to give access to area residents with lower incomes,” said Melissa Schreck, market manager, University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

    Fresh, nutritious, unprepared fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey may be purchased with FMNP benefits. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service administers the FMNP grants to state agencies. The 2008 Farm Bill provided $20.6 million annually for the program through 2012. Kentucky received approximately $297,000 for 2011. Seniors in the program will receive a total benefit of $28, with distributions starting June 1.

    For the second year, patrons will have access to the EBT/Debit machine, which allows the market to accept food stamps and process debit cards. There is a $1 fee to use a debit card. Last year there were 650 transactions, creating an additional $11,000 in sales.

    Each week, an average of 250-350 people frequent the market. Since the market opened in 2009, thousands have visited. Open each Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. rain or shine in the 400 block of East Gray St., the market offers an abundance of fruits and vegetables, fresh breads, poultry, beef jerky, jam, granola, kettle corn, crafts and many lunch options. There are a total of 18 vendors – demonstrating the commitment and success of the market.

    Gray Street Farmers Market will hold a prize drawing as part of opening day festivities May 19, including a $20 farmers market gift certificate and other giveaways. These drawings will continue monthly to encourage repeat attendance.

    SPHIS faculty, staff and students will pick up street debris on Tuesday, May 17 to prepare for the market. They received supplies for the project from Brightside.

    This is the third year the UofL School of Public Health and Information Sciences (SPHIS) has partnered with the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness to improve food access and have a positive impact on community and individual health. Other partners include UofL Health Care, the Louisville Area Chapter of the Red Cross and Norton Healthcare.

    The market runs through October 27.

    Julie Heflin
    Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.