PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — The state of Rhode Island is extending a nutrition program to provide about 2,500 boxes of local seasonal produce to low-income seniors.
The state Department of Environmental Management said it was working with the state Office of Healthy Aging and Farm Fresh Rhode Island to continue the program through December.
Eligible seniors participating in the program typically exchange coupons for fruits, vegetables, honey and fresh herbs at farmers’ markets. But far fewer seniors are going to the markets during the pandemic and the state had to return money to the federal government for unredeemed coupons, said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray.
Gray said his department created a pilot bulk purchase program earlier this year to deliver produce directly to seniors, and next year will use this method instead of coupons.
By extending the pilot program, Farm Fresh Rhode Island can source items from local growers and deliver the boxes to senior centers. DEM estimates that 2,500 boxes will be available.
“Utilizing and promoting local Rhode Island growers and fresh Rhode Island produce to help feed aging Rhode Islanders experiencing food insecurity is a win all around,” Gov. Dan McKee said in a statement.
The U.S. Agriculture Department’s Food and Nutrition Service runs the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
(Copyright (c) 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)