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Farmers’ market vouchers available to seniors

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REGION — Both New York State and Pennsylvania have Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Programs (SFMNP) that provide free vouchers to lower-income seniors that they can use to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers and farmers’ markets that have been approved to participate. This type of food is especially important for seniors as, among other health benefits, it helps control cardiovascular conditions or events (including stroke, see page 14) to which the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

There have been recent concerns that the expiration of a USDA contract with the vendor who processes SNAP cards at farmers’ markets could create problems for recipients (see story page 1). However, a representative at the Sullivan County Agency on Aging assured us that this problem should not affect the SFMNP, which depends on paper vouchers that do not have to be processed on site.

Who is eligible

For both states, you must be a resident of that state, a resident of the county from which you receive the vouchers, over 60, have a maximum income consistent with the below table, and redeem the vouchers at farmers’ markets in your state of residence.

1-person household       $1,872/month

2-person household       $2,538/month

3-person household       $3,204/month

What you get

Those eligible can receive a booklet with $20 worth of vouchers that can be used at participating farmers’ markets (see lists on page 13).

How and when to apply

The program has already started and checks are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Coupons are valid through November 1. Current availability varies by county as follows:

Sullivan County: Plenty of vouchers are still left. You can pick them up between now and September 30 at the Sullivan County Office for the Aging, County Government Center, 100 North St., Monticello, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. This weekend only, you can also pick them up at some of the local markets; see story on page 13. For information call 845/807-0241.

Wayne County: Some but not many vouchers were still available as of press time. They can be picked up at the Wayne County Agency on Aging, 323 10th St., Honesdale. Call to verify that vouchers are still available at 570/253-4262.

Pike County: Most of the vouchers were distributed in June. A small number are still available at senior centers around the county, where they are distributed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. To find out whether they are available, at which centers and times, call ahead at 570/775-5550.

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