A state Senate committee has approved legislation in Jefferson City this week establishing a Missouri senior farmers’ market nutrition program.
The Missouri Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee has approved the bill from State Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City, which would require the Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) to apply for a federal grant to provide low-income seniors with vouchers that could be exchanged for eligible food at farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
“This program increases availability for more nutritious food for low-income seniors, as well as increases profitability for local farmers,” Curls testifies.
Curls, who represents an urban district in Kansas City, notes Missouri is one of only seven states which does not have a senior farmers’ market nutrition program.
“According to the bill, a couple over the age of 60 with an annual household income less than or equal to $20,826 would be eligible,” Curls tells senators.
The Silver Haired Legislature testifies about 330,000 Missouri seniors would qualify for the legislation.
The Missouri State Alliance of YMCAs, the AARP and the American Heart Association all testified for Curls’ bill this week.
A group known as “KC Healthy Kids” also testified for the legislation. Beth Smith traveled from Kansas City to testify, describing Curls’ bill as a smart way to promote economic development.
“When (Missouri) farmers thrive, our communities thrive,” Smith says. “And when seniors, for example, can’t afford to eat a healthy, nutritious diet, farmers suffer. It’s fewer sales for them.”
The bipartisan bill is also supported by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City.