DHS news release
July 8, 2005
Contact: Patricia Feeny, Office of Public Affairs, (503) 945-6955
Program contact: Lauren Mitchell, DHS Seniors & People with Disabilities, (503) 945-6479
Thousands of Oregon's seniors benefit from federal nutrition program
A record number of low-income seniors statewide -- numbering more than 21,000 -- have an opportunity to take advantage of the state's agricultural bounty this summer and fall through the Senior Food Direct Nutrition Program.
Now in its fourth year, the program is a partnership of the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Oregon and U.S. Departments of Agriculture. Eligible participants can buy fresh produce from authorized farmers at both farmers markets and farm stands through Oct. 31. Each participant receives 20 $2 coupons, for a total of $40.
"I am pleased to report that more and more Oregon seniors are taking advantage of this nutrition program and that they are able to access fresh produce from Oregon farmers," said Governor Ted Kulongoski. "It is a relationship that is grounded firmly in the Oregon tradition of helping those who are most in need with our own resources and products."
Seniors who meet the following guidelines are eligible for the nutrition program:
60 years or older.
Enrolled in food stamps and/or Medicaid as of April 1, 2005.
Living at home or with family, not in a facility where meals are provided.
Monthly income does not exceed $1,077 for a single person or $1,443 for a couple.
DHS program coordinator Lauren Mitchell said that four years ago the program had limited participation and minimal interest. "Now the demand has exceeded our capacity," she said.
This year, out of 40,000 eligible low-income seniors, federal funds covered only 21,184 of them. Mitchell attributes this year's record participation not only to outreach and education, but also to word-of-mouth. "The basis of most of the inquiries we get are from folks who learned about the program from their neighbors," she said.
The program not only benefits at-risk families and low-income seniors, but also supports local farmers markets and farmers. Oregon has more than 70 participating farmers markets and 412 farm stands located throughout the state. Marion County leads the way with 53 farm stands, followed by Lane County with 42. To locate a farmers market, go to the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Web site.