We are grateful that CSU Extension in Larimer County has the capacity to be on the front lines in serving immediate community needs– via its relationships with farmers and producers, and community partners working together to address food insecurity. If you want to shop with us in 2020, visit us at 200 W. Oak Street on Saturdays, May 23 to October 31 from 9am-1pm. If you’d like to volunteer with Market Days!, contact Kali LeMaster at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about Market Days! can be found at larimercountyfm.org.
Market Days for Older Adults: A program at the Larimer County Farmers’ Market
By: Alison O’Connor and Emily Alligood, CSU Extension in Larimer County
Since 1975, in conjunction with the CSU Extension Office in Larimer County, the Larimer County Farmers’ Market (LCFM) has provided a venue for local farmers, small business owners, and artisans to sell products while building community connections and providing access to locally sourced, fresh food. For over a decade the LCFM has supported the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; formerly “food stamps”) and Double Up Food Bucks Program (a project supported through LiveWell Colorado). These programs encourage low-income individuals the ability to purchase fresh produce, while supporting local agriculture.
The Market Days! for Older Adults project was initiated in 2019 to provide incentives for older, low-income adults to visit the Larimer County Farmers’ Market. These individuals may not qualify for SNAP or the benefits may be limited—this is known as the “SNAP Gap.” In Larimer County alone, it is estimated that over 8,000 older adults are considered food insecure. The goals of the program were to make healthy food affordable and accessible, as well as to provide opportunities for social interaction with family, friends, vendors, and community partners by visiting the market. Participants were given $20 vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers’ market vendors. In 2019, the 163 participants in the Market Days! program reported a 35% increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. The LCFM vendors and farmers also benefited from the program, selling an additional $5,693 in produce.
The importance of this project has increased with COVID-19. Through the Market Days! program this year, Larimer County Extension and its community partners have been able to reach hundreds of isolated, older adults. We anticipate distributing over 1,100 bags of produce by the end of the season. The project has helped many agencies in our community better serve low-income older adults and address two of the key issues that this population currently faces: food insecurity and social isolation. During these difficult COVID times, Market Days! is offering a critical source of connection and lifeline for this population.
One happy recipient told us, “I got the beautiful veggies. They’re gorgeous. It makes me so happy that you guys did that for me. I’m so excited about the program. That’s exactly the kind of stuff I love right there. Beautiful veggies, just gorgeous. Thank you so much!”
Coordination of Market Days! by
- Alison O’Connor, Extension Horticulture Agent and Co-Market Manager
- Emily Alligood, Co-Market Manager
- Kali LeMaster, CSU Graduate Student in Food Science & Human Nutrition and Market Days! Project Coordinator
- Sue Schneider, Extension Community Development Agent and Senior Access Points Director
- Cheryl Noble, Senior Access Points Project Coordinator
Thank you to our sponsors!
Our Community Partners for the 2020 season:
A Little Help
Grand Family Coalition
Larimer County Office on Aging
Partnership For Age-Friendly Communities
Meals on Wheels
Neighbor to Neighbor