Farmers’ markets offer just-picked produce. (iStock)
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. The program serves more than 36,000 seniors each year and fewer than 2,700 sets of vouchers remain for this year. Eligible Philadelphia seniors can receive $20 in vouchers to purchase fresh Pennsylvania-grown produce sold at 55 certified Farmers’ Markets throughout Philadelphia.
Philadelphia residents, who will be age 60 or older by December 31 of this year, who meet income guidelines, and who have not received vouchers this year may come to PCA, 642 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, weekdays through Friday, August 18 or while supplies last, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vouchers also continue to be distributed at scheduled community outreach events, again while supplies last.
Amanda De Leo, NDTR, who is the special projects coordinator at PCA, manages the annual distribution of the produce vouchers. She says that the program meets a real need among 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 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.