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Senior Project FRESH Comes to Michigan

July 17, 2001

Michigan Department of Community Health Director, James K. Haveman, Jr. and Michigan Office of Services to the Aging Director, Lynn Alexander, today announced that seniors in six Michigan counties will experience a taste of Michigan by receiving free fruits and vegetables as part of a new United States Department of Agriculture, Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Pilot Program.

"This Senior Project FRESH pilot will increase the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables by seniors by expanding the availability, awareness and use of farmers' markets," said Haveman. "This is a great way to encourage and support healthy and nutritious food choices."

Project FRESH currently provides nutritious fruits and vegetables to individuals through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program. Seniors in Berrien, Emmet, Genesee, Ingham, Macomb and Oakland counties will participate in this pilot program. While the Office of Services to the Aging will distribute Project FRESH coupons to seniors through pilot sites in Berrien, Emmet, and Genesee counties, the Michigan Department of Education, Commodity Supplemental Food Program will distribute coupons through selected pilot sites in Ingham, Macomb, and Oakland Counties.

"Senior Project FRESH will play an important role in our efforts to encourage good nutrition and healthy choices for people over the age of 60 with incomes of 200% or below the federal poverty level," said Alexander. "Not only will 7,500 Michigan seniors in these six counties be served, but thanks to a partnership with the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, we expect 1,000 eligible Native American Seniors to also participate in Senior Project FRESH."

WIC Project FRESH and Senior Project FRESH coupons will be the same 2001 pink/red coupons and may be redeemed through October 31, 2001 for fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at any Project FRESH authorized farmers' market, participating farmer and/or road side stand in Michigan. Nutrition Education will be provided utilizing some of the same information prepared by Michigan State University Extension for WIC Project FRESH.

Launched in 1986, the Farmers' Market Nutrition Program was initially administered by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and became known in Michigan as Project FRESH. In 1992 the WIC Project FRESH program was transferred to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Berrien, Emmet and Genesee county seniors interested in Senior Project FRESH are urged to contact their local senior center. Ingham county seniors should contact Juanita Chapman at the Capitol Area Community Services (517) 393-1722 and Macomb and Oakland county seniors should contact Focus: HOPE at (313) 494-4600 for program and eligibility information.