Editor’s note: This story is part of a Total Health series the Observer- Reporter is producing in conjunction with Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging.
Just like the sweet corn they typically sell, farmers market stands can be seen all over the area. For those older than 60, who also meet the other criteria, it’s not too late to stop by a local senior community center or Area Agency on Aging office to pick up $20 worth of vouchers.
The Pennsylvania Farmers Market Nutrition Program is a cooperative effort between Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania WIC Program, Southwestern PA Area Agency on Aging and senior centers and distribution sites to support the nutrition of consumers, as well as the economic needs of Pennsylvania farmers by stimulating sales at local markets.
The program provides four $5 vouchers to eligible persons one time during the program year. Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers are distributed until Sept. 30. The vouchers may be redeemed at designated area farmers markets through Nov. 30.
To be eligible for the senior vouchers locally, an individual must be 60 years of age or older by Dec. 31. and a resident of Fayette, Greene or Washington counties. An eligible individual’s gross income includes interest, Social Security, wages, Black Lung, etc., and must be at or below $23,107. For a two-person household, the income may be $31,284.
An eligible senior may authorize a proxy to pick up and use the vouchers as long as the benefits ultimately reach the eligible participant. Poxy statements must be completed prior to picking up the vouchers. Proxy statements are available at local senior centers, Area Agency on Aging offices and online at www.swpa-aaa.org.
Seniors living in nursing or residential facilities, where meals are provided, are not eligible for the program.
To redeem vouchers, look for the PA Preferred logo when visiting a local farmers market.
Checks may only be used at farmers markets to purchase fruits and vegetables grown in Pennsylvania or produce that was purchased directly from a previously approved farmer from the neighboring states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. Wholesale produce is not eligible.
Vouchers are redeemable only at participating farmers market and vendor sites. A list of participating farmers should be available when vouchers are distributed.
Farmers cannot accept vouchers for citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, tropical fruits such as bananas, pineapples and mangos, not able to be grown in Pennsylvania, or processed foods such as jams, honey, cider or baked goods.
For more information on the Farmers Market Nutrition Program and participating farmers markets, contact a senior center in Greene or Washington counties. The Greene County center may be contacted at 724-852-1510. The Washington County center can be contacted at 724-228-7080.
To contact the Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging, call 724-489-8080, ext. 4430.