HARRISBURG – Eligible older adults and families with children can receive vouchers to help them buy fresh, local produce at farm markets and farm stands statewide, the Corbett administration said.
Agriculture Secretary George Greig and Aging Secretary Brian Duke recently kicked off the annual Farmers Market Nutrition Program during an event at the Farm Show Farmers Market in Harrisburg. Vouchers are available to income-eligible older adults and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program participants.
“Pennsylvania is proud of our active role in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides needed access to fresh, wholesome local foods,” said Greig. “The program benefits all involved, from the individuals who purchase food, to the farmers who raised it and the communities they live in. I encourage anyone eligible for the program to use the voucher to enjoy a taste of Pennsylvania this summer.”
Greig said Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that add state funding to the federally funded program. As a result, all of Pennsylvania is covered by the program. In 2011, the state is contributing $2.1 million to the nearly $6 million program.
“The partnership between the state departments of Aging and Agriculture helps bring the best of Pennsylvania’s fresh produce to our older citizens,” said Duke. “We are grateful for this partnership as well as for the farmers, area agencies on aging, senior community centers and other community organizations that help us with this valued outreach.”
The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides low-income older adults with four coupons or checks totaling $20 that can be exchanged for fruits and vegetables grown in Pennsylvania. The funds cannot be used on processed foods like jams, honey, nuts, cider or baked goods, or on citrus or tropical fruits.
To qualify for the program, individuals must be 60 or older by Dec. 31, 2011, with a total household income before taxes of less than $20,147 for a single person and $27,214 for a couple.
A second program, the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, provides free supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education to low-income pregnant and post-partum women, and to infants and children, up to age five, who are found to be nutritionally at-risk. Eligibility for this program is determined through local WIC agencies.
Residents should contact their local area agency on aging or WIC agency for further information, including locations, dates and times of check distributions. Vouchers are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
Statewide, 259 farmers markets and 1,277 roadside farm stands participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which operates from June 1 to Nov. 30.
For information on where to find participating farmers markets, browse the farmers market database at www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search “farmers markets.”