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Pennsylvania Ag News Headlines
Ag Officials Launch Farmers Market Voucher Program for Families, Older Adults
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 06/11/2009

State and federal agriculture officials helped kick-off this year's Farmers Market Nutrition Program at the Farm Show Farmers Market in Harrisburg. The program provides vouchers for eligible older adults and families to purchase fresh local foods at farm markets and farm stands across Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Dennis Wolff joined Yvette Jackson, regional director of Food and Nutrition Services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to highlight the partnerships that fund and promote the program.

"Pennsylvania is proud of its active role in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which provides needed access to fresh, wholesome local foods," said Wolff. "The program benefits all involved, including the individuals who purchase food, the farmers who produce it, and the communities they live in. I encourage anyone eligible for the program to take advantage of it, and enjoy the many fresh foods Pennsylvania offers in the summer."

Wolff said Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that provide state funding in addition to federal grants. As a result, all of Pennsylvania is covered by the program. In 2009, Pennsylvania is contributing $2.2 million to the nearly $6 million program.

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program provides low-income older adults with four coupons or checks, totaling $20, which 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, 2009, with a total household income before taxes of less than $20,036 for a single person and $26,955 for a couple.

A second program, the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, is available and associated with the special supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly known as WIC. The 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.

Statewide, 1,025 farmers are participating in the program at 189 farm markets and 920 roadside farm stands. The program operates from June 1 to Nov. 30.

Residents should contact their local area agency on aging or WIC agency for further information, including locations, dates and times of check distributions. For information on where to find participating farmers markets, check the 2009 Farm Market Guide by visiting www.agriculture.state.pa.us and clicking on 'Online Services.'

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