July 1, 2002
Market launches Senior Nutrition Program
by Jeanette Knutson
WOODINVILLE - Just because the incomes of seniors may decline, it doesn't mean their nutritional needs do. To keep local low-income seniors eating healthfully, the Woodinville Farmers Market began a pilot Senior Nutrition Program with a $5,000 grant it received from the state.
The program started with 100 low-income seniors, age 60 and above. Participants must be at 185 percent of federal guidelines for poverty. Each qualifying senior gets a total of $50 in vouchers to purchase fresh produce and herbs at the Woodinville Farmers Market.
Teresa Andrade, center manager of the Northshore Hopelink office, has been helping screen and sign-up clients at the Hopelink Food Bank in Bothell.
Julie Davidson, volunteer for the Market, said, "Our first priority is to those who have an identified need for food assistance. If space is available, the program will be open to other seniors at the Northshore Senior Center."
"This is such a wonderful thing for seniors," said Andrade, "especially for those who have limited money to spend on groceries. The nutrients in fresh foods are very important for them."
Mimi McLaughlin, social services coordinator for the Northshore Senior Center, said, "Not only does this program give clients the opportunity to have fresh, locally produced food, but the proceeds go directly to the farmers who are producing it. So many times you don't know if the person providing a service actually gets the benefit. But with this program, you do. Besides, clients will know their produce wasn't shipped in some refrigerated truck; it wasn't kept in cold storage for who knows how long. Who can beat locally grown produce, probably picked the evening before?"
McLaughlin said going to the market also offers seniors a hometown experience. Many won't go, she said, to Seattle's Pike Place Market because it's too far.
"(With the Woodinville Farmers Market Senior Nutrition Program), participants are getting an outing - entertainment for a Saturday - plus fresh food."
Davidson said, "We are noticing that for a lot of seniors, the market brings back wonderful memories. It takes them back to times gone by. ... It's such a joy for me to hear their stories ... it's such a pleasure to see them (enjoying the market experience)."
Program participants will also receive a newsletter, Bounty in a Bag, produced by the Public Health Department. The newsletter will explain how to best utilize crops as they come in season, said Davidson. It will provide recipes and nutrition facts and be distributed at the market by the farmers.
Program organizers will be tracking the use of vouchers throughout the season, said Davidson.
"If someone is not using the vouchers and does not intend to use them, we will reissue those vouchers," Davidson said. She said the goals of the program are to help seniors get good nutrition and help farmers get value for their produce.
If the program proves successful this year, similar programs will be implemented at other farmers markets. For more information about the Woodinville Farmers Market Senior Nutrition Program, call (425) 485-1042.
The Woodinville Farmers Market is open Saturdays only, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.