USDA Nutrition Program Brings Fresh Fruits And Vegetables To Low Income Seniors In Pocahontas
Green Bank, WV – For those senior citizens in Pocahontas County living on a reduced income, fresh fruit and vegetables from the farmers market may be only a coupon away. July marks the first of a four month program sponsored by the USDA, the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program. The federal program awards grants to US states, territories and recognized Indian tribal governments to provide coupons to low income seniors that can be exchanged for fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs at local farmers markets.
The program runs through October 31st. Sally Lovelace, Site Supervisor at the Green Bank senior center says to qualify, seniors must be at least 60 years old and meet certain income guidelines.
“They get twenty dollars worth of coupons – there’s 10 two dollar coupons in each book” says Lovelace.
For West Virginia, those income guidelines range from $1670.00 per month for a single to $3976.00 per month for a household of five. Lovelace says the coupons have to be spent at markets or stands within West Virginia.
“The one at the mini-park in Marlinton accepts these coupons, which is a great thing” says Lovelace. “In the past we’ve had to travel out of the county – we take them to Franklin and we have went as far as Summersville, so they could spend the coupons.”
She says some seniors have already talked to her about the program at the center. She’s also makes visits to homebound seniors.
“Normally a lot of the people who qualify for the program are our home bound people” she says. “I actually go out to their houses, and I sign them up, and they usually have a proxy, a person that can go and spend the coupons for them.”
She says she tries to target those seniors who are at higher nutritional risk. Similar to the Electronic Benefits Transfer or EBT program recently added at the Marlinton farmers market, vendors must sign up for the senior nutrition program, and are reimbursed by the state. Lovelace says this is just one of many services the county senior centers offer.
“Our county is made up of a lot of senior citizens who aren’t taking advantage of these programs” she says. “They really need too, that’s what we’re here for – we’re just here to help them.”
You can contact Sally Lovelace about the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program at the Green Bank Senior center at 304-456-5370. You can also talk to Beth Auldridge, Site Supervisor at the Marlinton Senior center at 304-799-6337.