For Immediate Release - September 19, 2013

HHS Secretary Polanowicz Highlights Healthy, Affordable Food Options for Seniors and SNAP Recipients at Belmont Farmers’ Market

photo of Sec. Polanowicz shopping at the Belmont Farmers’ Market with ELD Sec. Hartstein

BELMONT — Patrick Administration officials today visited the Belmont Farmers’ Market to promote affordable and nutritional food options available for seniors and recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

“The Belmont Farmers’ Market is an excellent example of our Commonwealth’s commitment to the health of our residents and communities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz. “Programs like SNAP and Senior Nutrition Coupons provide healthy choices to those who need assistance, while also supporting local products and businesses.”

Secretary Polanowicz was joined by Elder Affairs Secretary Ann Hartstein, Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Stacey Monahan, local officials, seniors and SNAP clients at the event, which is part of a tour to promote farmer’s markets across the Commonwealth.

The participants highlighted the nutritional and economic benefits of purchasing locally grown produce using federally funded nutrition benefits. Currently, Massachusetts has 249 farmers’ markets, 118 of which accept SNAP benefits. Through the Belmont Food Collaborative, the Belmont Farmers’ Market provides a dollar‐for‐dollar match, up to $25, each time a SNAP recipient uses their benefits at the market, which also accepts Senior Nutrition Coupons.

“The Department is committed to helping provide clients with healthy food options, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and farmer’s markets play an important role in reaching that goal,” said Commissioner Monahan. “I am happy to join community members to bring attention to farmer’s market and the initiatives offered here that will help our clients eat healthier at a lower cost.”

The Senior Nutrition Coupons are part of Massachusetts’ Farmers’ Market Coupon Program, which began in Massachusetts in 1986 as a demonstration program and has since become adapted nationally as part of the federal Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program. The program, administered through the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources enhances access to community supported agriculture programs, like farmers' markets and roadside stands, to elders in need.

“Farmers’ Markets are easy to get to and offer real health and economic benefits to seniors and all community members,” said Secretary Hartstein.

"The Belmont Farmers' Market is a doing a great job making healthy food available to more people," said Senator Brownsberger of Belmont. "I appreciate the support of the DTA in expanding the availability of healthy food to people on hard times."

“By accepting SNAP benefits, the Belmont Farmers’ Market makes nutritious, local food available to all Belmont residents,” State Representative Dave Rogers. “The attention that Governor Patrick’s Administration is paying today will help raise awareness that everyone has the opportunity to bring home nutritious food to their families, and that we must continue to work towards improving nutritional health throughout the Commonwealth.”

Learn more about using SNAP benefits at Massachusetts’ Farmers’ Markets: www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown/docs/snap-consumer-info.pdf.

Learn more about the Massachusetts’ Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program: www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/agr/markets/farmers-markets/farmers-market-coupon-program.html.

Elder Affairs’ MassAccess cable TV program, SENIOR SCENE, filmed the event, which will be available at a later date through: www.massaccess.org.

# # #