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Food Assistance for the Elderly

People are living longer, and proper nutrition is important for a healthy and longer life. This article discusses several food programs that are available to the elderly in Northeast Ohio for no cost or low cost.

Food Assistance Program

Older Americans, especially those on fixed incomes, are finding their resources stretched thin. So, what can be done to help the elderly who are having a difficult time putting food on the table?

One answer is the Food Assistance Program, which can help those who qualify. The Food Assistance Program, formerly known as Food Stamps, is a nutrition assistance program which provides monthly benefits that are used at the grocery store.

Food Assistance is not welfare, but it is funded with Federal dollars. The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program is also known as SNAP. Eligibility for food stamps is based on the size, income and expenses of each household.

To determine if you are eligible for Food Assistance, call Employment and Family Services at 216-987-7000 in Cuyahoga County; in Lorain, Ohio call 440-244-4150; in Elyria, Ohio call 440-323-5726; in Lake County call 440-350-4000; in Geauga County call 440-285-9141; and in Ashtabula County call 440-998-1110.


The Ohio Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) began in June 2010 and is available through the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (WRAAA) in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina Counties through October 31, 2010.

The purpose of the Senior Farmers' Market is to improve the nutritional health of low-income older adults and to increase business for local farmers throughout Ohio.

Eligible participants must be at least 60 years of age at the time of application and meet the required annual household income level. Applications are available at WRAAA-authorized senior centers. For contact information on participating senior centers call 216-621-0303.

Each eligible participant will receive one set of coupons worth $50 to redeem for fresh produce and fruit grown locally by WRAAA-approved farmers. Coupons can only be redeemed by a participating farmer who sells produce at farmers' markets or roadside stands. A special sign will be posted at eligible farmers' stands so participants know which farmers accept Senior Farmers' Market coupons.

The City Fresh Program is also authorized to accept SFMNP coupons. You may visit the City Fresh Web site at cityfresh.org for more information about how this program works.


Meals on Wheels is the most recognized name-brand of senior nutrition programs. The name is generally associated with meals delivered to individuals in their homes.

Many communities also have meal programs at senior centers available to local residents. These programs can provide for some special dietary needs and may involve a small fee or free will donation.

For more information about program availability and locations call First Call for Help at 211. First Call for Help is available in Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lake Counties.

This article was written by Carol Eisenstat, Esq. and Carol Kile, Esq., staff attorneys with The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and reprinted with permission from The Alert, a publication of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

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