Program could give low-income seniors more access to local produ - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Program could give low-income seniors more access to local produce

A local farmer sells tomatoes at the Cape Farmers' Market on Thursday. A local farmer sells tomatoes at the Cape Farmers' Market on Thursday.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Low-income seniors in Missouri could soon have more access to locally grown fruits and vegetables.

That is if Senate Bill 332 is passed.

The bill would implement the Senior Farmer's Market Nutrition Program, which gives seniors access to local produce using a voucher system.

The system allows eligible seniors who are aged 60 years or older to exchange a check for items like tomatoes and peaches.

Senator Jamilah Nasheed introduced a bill to get funding for the project from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The director of the Cape Farmer's Market is all for this program.

"It gets food out to people who need it," Marilyn Peters said. "It gets good food."

Peters has seen it successfully at work in Illinois.

"A program where the people that need to buy produce have something in their hands and they can go pay for it and the vendor can take it to the bank basically... it's very simple to do," Marilyn Peters said.

Peters said a lot of the vendors at the Cape Farmers' Market are already familiar with accepting the vouchers because they sell in Illinois.

Missouri is one of only seven states that have not implemented this program.

Ross Peterson, manager of the Cape Riverfront Market, said they already accept food stamps.

He said this program would mean even more people could access healthy options.

"When you're buying things that are grown locally they don't travel as far, they're picked fresher, so they have more nutrients. You do get really good value and much more nutritional benefit from them."

A senate committee approved the bill in early April.

However, it is not currently on a calendar.

The bill must be discuss on the senate floor next.

The Cape Farmers' Market is already is open for the summer season. It runs every Thursday from noon to 5 p.m.

The Cape Riverfront Market's opening day is set for May 2.

Copyright 2015 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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