Aging Agencies Get $440K to Improve Access to Produce

GIRARD, Ohio – As part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s Cabinet Day in the Mahoning Valley, the Ohio Department of Aging has announced $440,000 in grants for local Agencies on Aging.

Among the awards was $40,000 for Direction Home of Eastern Ohio’s Nutrition in Your Neighborhood program, which will provide fresh produce via markets at senior centers and other sites in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties.

Also awarded $40,000 were Area Agency on Aging Region 9’s Community Resources Offering Produce for Seniors program and Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities’ Mobile Markets and Senior Housing program.

The grants were made through the Producing Healthy Seniors program, which has received additional general revenue funds in Ohio’s fiscal 2020-21 operating budget.

Producing Healthy Seniors projects must support at least two sites within their service areas, including making produce available in nontraditional locations such as senior housing communities, local senior centers, and congregate meal sites. Area agencies will also partner with local food advocacy networks and established community partners to provide food and additional services and resources, such as on-site nutrition education, cooking demonstrations, and healthy recipes for participants.

The Department of Aging’s Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program  provides income-eligible older adults with access to fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey through farmers’ markets and roadside stands. The program, previously available in 45 of Ohio’s 88 counties, is in high demand. In 2018, nearly 35,000 older Ohioans redeemed more than 65,000 cash-based coupons to purchase local produce from 440 local farmers. The program is made possible by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as well as state and local funds. 

“Visiting farmers’ markets are often part of Ohio families’ routines in the summer and fall, and this funding ensures that older Ohioans continue to have access to fresh, local produce,” DeWine said in a statement. 

Added Ursel McElroy, director of the state Department of Aging, “Access to healthy and nutritious food influences life expectancy and health outcomes. Since 2001, the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program has connected older Ohioans and farmers. We are supporting and expanding healthy eating and being engaged in communities.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.