LEMOYNE, Pa., June 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Low-income Pennsylvanians can now apply for vouchers to purchase local produce at farmers markets and farm stands across the state through the Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).
Eligible older adults and WIC participants can use four $5 vouchers to buy fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables at qualified farm market stands through the $7 million state and federal program. The funds cannot be used on processed foods like jams, honey, nuts, cider or baked goods, or on citrus or tropical fruits.
"Our farmers produce an abundance of fresh, local produce," Agriculture Secretary George Greig said. "The Farmers Market Nutrition Program gives all Pennsylvanians the opportunity to enjoy this bounty while supporting local farmers.''
"I encourage anyone eligible for the program to take advantage of it and enjoy a taste of Pennsylvania this summer," Greig said.
Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that provide state funding in addition to federal grants for the program. As a result, all of Pennsylvania is covered by the program.
"The Farmer's Market Nutrition Program provides value by connecting our older residents with fresh produce from Pennsylvania's farmers," Aging Secretary Brian Duke said. "The Department of Aging is proud to be a part of this program which aligns with our other nutrition programs keeping our older adults healthy."
To qualify for the program, individuals must be 60 or older by Dec. 31, 2013, with a total household income before taxes of less than $21,257 for a single person and $28,694 for two people.
A second program, the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program, provides vouchers to WIC recipients. The WIC program provides 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.
"This program provides access to fresh, local food choices to thousands of Pennsylvania's families on WIC who benefit from the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy lifestyle," Health Secretary Michael Wolf said. "This is one more step to improving the nutrition and health of our new mothers and children and supporting healthy eating habits that we hope will continue into adulthood."
Statewide, 207 farmers markets and 897 roadside farm stands participate in the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which operates from June 1 to Nov. 30.
Residents should contact their local Area Agency on Aging or WIC agency for additional information, including locations, dates and times of voucher distributions. Vouchers are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
For information on where to find participating farmers markets, browse the farmers market database at www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search "farmers markets."
Samantha Elliott Krepps, Dept. of Agriculture; 717-787-5085
Christina Reese, Dept. of Aging; 717-783-1549
Kait Gillis, Dept. of Health; 717-787-1783
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture