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Local seniors make the most of farmers market pilot program
farmers market
This year, dozens of seniors from the Salvation Army Silvercrest Residence participated in a pilot program funded by Legacy Health Endowment that gave them vouchers to spend on healthy foods during select market days (Photo courtesy of TCFM).

Senior citizens from the Salvation Army Silvercrest Residence were eating healthy this year thanks to a new pilot program launched by the Turlock Certified Farmers Market (TCFM) and Legacy Health Endowment.

Through an application process, the Salvation Army Silvercrest Residence selected seniors to receive $30 worth of market vouchers to purchase fruits, vegetables and other food products at the farmers market, funded by Legacy Health Endowment, twice a month from May to September.

According to the Turlock Certified Farmers Market, $7,245 in “senior bucks” were redeemed by 26 seniors at 36 different vendors. The retention rate of the participating seniors was 95 percent. Additionally, 99 percent of the distributed funds were spent on the same market day, which led to increased revenue for the local vendors.

“This program has far surpassed all our expectations,” said TCFM President Theresa Kiehn. 

“Many of these seniors, they just need some extra help. Not only that, but they need ways to get out and about and also have access to healthier foods,” added TCFM marketing director Nick Schuller. 

Also being tracked was where the participants shopped. According to Schuller, most of the voucher money was spent on produce.

“It is important that we take every step possible in the fight against food insecurity,” said Jeffrey Lewis, president of Legacy Health Endowment. “The TCFM partnership is a significant step in helping seniors with access to fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables and more.” 

Schuller and Kiehn also expressed satisfaction in the fact that participants were able to spend time amongst other community members.

“One of my favorite aspects has been to see the seniors enjoying their time with us at the market and fully participating in our community event,” Kiehn shared.

“It’s what stuck out most,” added Schuller. “They had something to do and were having a good time engaging with other community members.”

The market is already having conversations with Lewis and Legacy Health Endowment to secure funds so that the program can expand to more local seniors for the 2024 market season.