Wisconsin seniors are speaking up about the end of a program that helped them afford produce at local farmers markets.
Several hundred seniors rallied in Milwaukee today to protest the end of the federal Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Under the program, low income seniors were given $25 vouchers to spend at summer farmers markets. It expired along with the rest of the 2008 Farm Bill, in early October. 81-year-old Ruth Jordan of Milwaukee was among those protesting at a local senior center. She says the voucher meant a lot, “In the summertime, I usually put away a lot of vegetables and some fruit you know, this has been a help to me towards my income, I am a widow and I live alone.”
Over 13,000 seniors statewide collected the vouchers. Sherrie Tussler is the executive director of the Hunger Task Force in Milwaukee. She says the money was a huge help for seniors on a fixed income, “Twenty five dollars may not seem a lot, like a lot, to a listener, but $25 makes a huge difference to that senior. We had several hundred seniors show up to make noise and show it does make a huge difference.”
Tussler says there are no programs out there that can make up for the loss of the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. She says it’s not clear if the program will be renewed. A new Farm Bill may or may not come up for a vote in the U.S. House sometime this month.