The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health and St. Luke’s Health System each contributed $5,000 to fund a pilot program that will provide senior citizens with free produce each week at the Caldwell Farm to Fork Farmers’ Market.

Currently, Idaho is one of only three states that does not offer a senior nutrition program as part of its farmers markets. The Senior Farmers Market Produce Program, funded by the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health and St. Luke’s, is the first program offered through the Idaho Farmers Market Association that offers senior-specific benefits.

“We decided on the Caldwell Farmers Market because Caldwell has the highest percentage of food-insecure people in Idaho,” said Denise Dixon, program coordinator for the Idaho Farmers Market Association. “We want to increase the domestic consumption of agricultural commodities through farmers markets, but we also want to promote walkability, decrease isolation and create a bridge to the gap that was created from the pandemic.”

Seniors who register for the Seniors Farmers Market Produce Program receive a program loyalty card and up to $10 each week in vouchers that can be used for free produce or eggs from market vendors.

The market is open 5-8 p.m. each Tuesday through September 28 at Indian Creek Plaza, 120 S. Kimball in Caldwell. Low-income senior families receive up to $10 worth of produce and eggs each week. The program launched June 15 with 68 households signing up for the weekly benefit.

“Access to healthy food is an important factor for good health,” said Kendra Witt-Doyle, Executive Director, Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health. “We’re excited to pilot this program to create access to healthy foods for seniors and help create a healthier Idaho.”

“Beyond the essential link to healthy food, this pilot will also connect seniors to additional health resources and services,” said Jean Mutchie, St. Luke’s community health manager. “We are thrilled to collaborate with the Caldwell Farmers Market and Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve.”