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Mayor's Office Heading City Letter Head

January 5, 2001
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831

USDA Program To Benefit Seniors and Farmers Markets

Mayor Don Wesely announced today that the City of Lincoln will apply to the state to participate in a unique U.S. Department of Agriculture program to help low-income senior citizens buy fresh fruits and vegetables and to increase sales at the Lincoln Haymarket Farmers Market and other farmers markets.

"This is a terrific nutrition program that can benefit both low-income senior citizens and farmers who sell produce at our local Farmers Market in the Haymarket and other area markets," Wesely said. "We are very pleased that the USDA approved Nebraska to participate in this pilot program. The City of Lincoln will enthusiastically support it. It will help to expand the opportunities for lower income senior citizens to improve their diets by offering them more fresh produce. It will also bring more people to the farmers markets."

The City of Lincoln will submit an application to the State of Nebraska to offer the coupons. The city would operate the Senior Food Coupon Program through the Lincoln Area Agency on Aging (LAAA). LAAA would work with the Nebraska Agriculture Department and the State Division of Aging and Disability Services in offering the coupons. Once approved by the state, the coupons would be available from June 1 through September 30, 2001. Each month, eligible senior citizens will receive up to $20 in coupons that can be used to buy fresh produce at the Lincoln Haymarket Farmers Market. Eligible seniors must be at least 60 years old and meet a low-income guideline. The city will advertise the date when senior citizens can begin applying for the coupons.

"Lincoln has a very popular Farmers Market in the Haymarket and this program will expand the sales at that market and others which will further benefit the city and the farmers who grow the produce," Wesely said.

Wesely said the Senior Food Coupon Program will stimulate the market for farmers who grow fresh produce and give them a chance to improve their income at a time when the farming income has been suffering from low commodity prices. "Farming has been experiencing a slumping economy for a few years now, and anything we can do to stimulate sales is positive," Wesely said.

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