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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

$2.3 million in federal funds to encourage consumption of local produce

An island official said the funds will facilitate efforts to provide the island’s economically disadvantaged population over 60 years of age with access to healthy food.

By John McPhaul

Island Agriculture (DA) Secretary Ramón González Beiró announced on Sunday the approval of $2.33 million through the federal Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, with the aim of encouraging the development of local agricultural production.

“Bearing in mind that the crops of our land are the best source of nutrients and by consuming what is from here we contribute to an increase in production and the long-awaited food security to which all our efforts are directed, is achieved,” González Beiró said in a written statement.

He said the funds will be distributed by the Family Socioeconomic Development Administration (ADSEF by its Spanish acronym) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Mothers, pregnant women, children from one to five years old and people over 60 years of age will receive checks for the purchase of agricultural products that can be redeemed at the farmers’ markets that take place around the island.

In this context, González Beiró noted that ADSEF has assigned a total of $830,000 for delivery to its participants; each eligible beneficiary receives $40. The funds to be administered by the WIC program, meanwhile, amount to $1.5 million, for which each eligible participant receives $30. Checks can be redeemed until Nov. 30.

ADSEF chief Alberto Fradera said the DA’s efforts, along with the efforts of others, promote the ability to fully carry out the objective of providing the island’s economically disadvantaged population over 60 years of age with access to healthy food.

“Through the family markets, we promote the acquisition of local products, firstly, for the participants of the Nutritional Assistance Program and, after that, for all those who want to bring to their table what the farmers of Puerto Rico produce,” Fradera said. “With this assistance, we support our older adults and facilitate their access to agricultural products that are grown with so much effort and passion. We will continue to promote food security through these types of efforts and others that we are managing.”

On Tuesday, a family market will be held at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Hato Rey from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., where citizens will be able to purchase their favorite products. Participants in both programs who receive the aforementioned benefits will be able to use their checks for the purchase of vegetables and fruits harvested by family farmers.

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