Qualified seniors who shop at the newly completed Olde Dominion Agricultural Complex Virginia Grown Farmers' Market in Chatham, Va., can now use their Farm Market Fresh for Seniors checks for food purchases. The vouchers can be used to buy fresh locally grown farm produce from vendors who display the purple 2012 Farm Market Fresh for Seniors signs, showing they have been designated as producers in the program.
"We are very excited to be involved in the Farm Market Fresh for Seniors program for 2012, says Fred Wydner, manager of the Chatham market. "We encourage senior citizens holding Farm Market Fresh for Seniors checks to shop the farmers market on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon and use their program checks for purchases."
As time goes by there are more locations that accept the vouchers. Most states participate in an associated or similar program. In our primary Carolina-Virginia Farmer readership area, the stakeholders in the states of Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina have all received grants from the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to participate.
Low-income seniors are generally defined as individuals who are at least 60 years old and who have household incomes of not more than 185% of the federal poverty line (about $20,664 in 2012 for a senior in a single-person household, or a household income of about $42,640 in a four-person household).
Additional eligibility requirements determine that a program participant be a resident of a locality that participates in the program. Also, the senior must not live in the same household or be an immediate family member of the farmer who grows the produce he or she intends to buy.
Seniors can apply through their local Area Agency on Aging to determine their eligibility. If approved they will receive $40 worth Farm Market Fresh for Seniors checks per eligible senior for that growing season. Each check is worth $5 and may be used to purchase fresh, locally grown fruit, vegetables, and cut herbs from certified market vendors.
Those seeking more information about the program and the farmers' market participation in it can contact Bill Scruggs, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at 804-363-9279 or Fred Wydner, Chatham Market Manager at 434-532-7993.