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Farmers' market coupons available for low-income seniors

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    U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur shows some recipes that can be made with fresh produce during an event to highlight the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program in Toledo.

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    Rebecca Liebes, Area Office of Aging of Northwestern Ohio, talks about coupons available to some seniors for buying produce at farmers' markets.

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    U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, left, shakes hands with Dr. Rebecca Liebes, Area Office of Aging of Northwestern Ohio during an event to highlight the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

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    Kendra Smith, with ProMedica, speaks during an event promoting the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program in Toledo.

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    Kendra Smith of ProMedica talks about senior nutrition during an event promoting the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program in Toledo .

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    Mindy Rapp of SeaGate Food Bank, talks about senior nutrition during an event to highlight the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

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    U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), left, and Mindy Rapp, with the SeaGate Food Bank.

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    U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) helps highlight the Sennior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

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    U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) points at fresh produce during an event to highlight the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Progra .

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    Doni Miller, with the Neighborhood Health Association, speaks about the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program in West Toledo.

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    Doni Miller, with the Neighborhood Health Association, speaks at event to highlight the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

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    Kendra Smith of ProMedica speaks during an event hosted by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur to highlight the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

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    Jim Rapp helps collect some fresh produce that his wife, Mindy Rapp of SeaGate Food Bank, set out for the news conference.

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Local leaders are trying to get the word out that seniors who earn less than $22,500 a year are eligible for coupons to buy produce at farmers’ markets, a program of the federal government touted as benefiting both seniors and local growers.

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U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur shows some recipes that can be made with fresh produce during an event to highlight the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program in Toledo.

The Blade/Kurt Steiss
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The Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program offers seniors $50 coupons to purchase goods at places like the Westgate Farmers’ Market, where officials gathered Wednesday to tout the longtime U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

“We wanted to have a win-win for seniors and also put those dollars in the pockets of our local producers,” said U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) who wore a red apron and talked about the program in front of a bounty of produce donated to the SeaGate Food Bank. “Farm prices are going down for beans and corn, so selling vegetables is helpful to them to help cushion their income as prices go down in row crop production.”

People who are older than 60 and meet the income requirement will qualify and should contact the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio, which has distributed 19,000 coupon sets across the region. The agency works with more than 100 farmers who accept them.

“We would love to get fresh food and vegetables to all older adults because it’s the basis of a healthy diet,” said Rebecca Liebes, the office’s vice president of nutrition and wellness. ”We want you to have fruits, vegetables, and grains, and we want you to have that every day.”

In addition to the senior program, Miss Kaptur said the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently awarded nearly $2.3 million to Produce Perks Midwest to increase access to locally grown food for 1.4 million Ohioans who receive benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, sometimes referred to as food stamps.

“We are all looking for creative ways to solve food insecurity and we know this is an important concern to so many people across our region,” Miss Kaptur said.

Nutrition is a top concern for seniors.

“If you don’t pay attention to that aspect of your life,” said Doni Miller of the Neighborhood Health Association, “the rest of your life is not going to be the quality that you need it to be.”

Call the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio at 419-382-0624.

Contact Liz Skalka at lskalka@theblade.com, 419-724-6199, or on Twitter @lizskalka.

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