Free Farmers’ Market Produce Vouchers Now Available to Low-Income Seniors
Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) began distributing Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) produce vouchers on Monday, June 19, as part of an annual program to encourage seniors to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Eligible Philadelphia seniors can receive $20 worth of vouchers that can be used to purchase fresh Pennsylvania-grown produce sold at 55 certified Farmers’ Markets throughout Philadelphia.
Income-eligible Philadelphia residents, who will be age 60 or older by December 31 of this year, may receive the vouchers at PCA, 642 North Broad Street in Philadelphia (weekdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; except Thursday, June 22) and at other designated sites. A popular distribution location, where the vouchers can also be spent on-site, is the Reading Terminal Market, Rick Nichols Room, 12th and Arch streets. Vouchers will be distributed there on Wednesdays, July 12 and 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day.
According to Amanda De Leo, NDTR, special projects coordinator at PCA, who manages the annual distribution of produce vouchers to seniors in Philadelphia, the program meets a real need among the older adults. “Food deserts, which are often referred to as areas that are scarce in fresh, healthful foods, are sprinkled throughout the city, which largely inhibits our seniors from consuming the proper amount of fresh produce. This program gives our seniors the opportunity to take advantage of the produce they wouldn’t usually have available to them in their neighborhoods,” De Leo said.
Proof of age (60-plus) and Philadelphia residency must be presented to receive vouchers. Acceptable forms of identification include Pennsylvania driver’s license or non-driver’s ID and other forms of ID that include age and residency. Seniors must sign in person (or through a proxy) and may receive the vouchers only once per year.
To receive the produce vouchers, 2016 household income must not exceed the following guidelines:
1 person: $22,311 2 people: $30,044 3 people: $37,777 4 people: $45,510
(Add $7,733 for each additional household member up to six people)
For questions about eligibility and more information, including other voucher distribution sites, call the PCA Helpline at 215-765-9040.
The vouchers, made available through funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis and must be used before November 30, 2017. Last year, 36,550 older Philadelphians received $731,000 worth of free vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers’ markets.
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