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Evaluation of the 2001 pilot Oregon Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program

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  • The Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), piloted in Oregon in 2001, provided $100 worth of vouchers (aka coupons) to low-income seniors to buy fresh local produce from farmers at farmers' markets and roadside stands. Presented in a political ecology framework, this research integrated the perspectives of beneficiaries and their communities into a program evaluation. Convenience interviews of participants at farmers' markets around Oregon revealed significant economic, social and nutritional benefits resulting from the program. Findings also revealed areas of contention for some seniors: produce prices, transportation barriers, and lack of awareness of local agriculture. Reimbursement delays, policing of coupon-users and lack of information caused frustrations for farmers. Generally, farmers were appreciative of seniors as customers, and of the program for enabling farmers and their market to perform a social good; strengthening the community-building role of the farmers' market, providing a social activity for seniors and their support network, creating new relationships between the community and farmers, and enabling seniors to participate in the market experience and farmers to provide fresh produce that enhanced seniors' nutritional intake. Overall, SFMNP achieved its objectives in supporting low-income seniors, farmers and farm-direct marketing, and was an appealing program for seniors and farmers.
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