Farmers Market Nutrition Program Connects Hungry Pennsylvanians with Fresh, Local Food

The Departments of Agriculture, Aging and Health are reminding low-income seniors and WIC recipients to use their vouchers from the Pennsylvania Farmers Market Nutrition Program to purchase fresh, local fruits, vegetables, and herbs from farmers markets and farm stands across the commonwealth.

“In a state as agriculturally rich as Pennsylvania, no one should go hungry. The way this program connects farmers directly with individuals in need to provide fresh, local, nourishment is ideal,” said Agriculture Secretary Redding. “COVID-19 has created a broad community of need in Pennsylvania – but our food assistance programs, like FMNP, were designed for times like these. I encourage everyone with vouchers to use them, go pick up some local comfort food. And know that you’re supporting a local farm family by redeeming your vouchers.”

From June through November, the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs provide low-income seniors and eligible participants in the WIC program with vouchers to purchase Pennsylvania-grown fruits, vegetables, and fresh-cut herbs from approved farm markets and farm stands across the commonwealth. In an effort to protect vulnerable Pennsylvanians and effectively mitigate against COVID-19, vouchers are distributed to participants via mail from WIC clinics and Area Agencies on Aging.

“Older adults who suffer from food insecurity have inadequate diets, a higher risk of depression and other poor health outcomes. Programs such as the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program make it possible for vulnerable adults, 60 years of age and over, to access nutritious foods and help them live healthy lives,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “I urge all older Pennsylvanians to contact their local Area Agency on Aging for any assistance they require to receive their free vouchers, and to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines when visiting these markets.”

To be eligible, seniors must be 60 years old by December 31, 2020 and have incomes that do not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $23,606 per year for a single person or $31,894 for a household of two. Eligible seniors can contact their local Senior FMNP Agency for additional information regarding how to apply for vouchers. Women and children ages 1-4 who are participating in WIC are eligible to receive vouchers under the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program. These vouchers are being distributed to eligible recipients either through the mail or via a drop box at their local WIC agency. Each eligible recipient receives four $6.00 checks to spend throughout the season. Participants may redeem vouchers from June 1 through November 30, 2020.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged Pennsylvanians to take precautions to protect the health and well-being of ourselves and those around us and the attention to our nutritional needs should not stop in the midst of this crisis,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. “In addition to washing our hands and wearing a mask, it is important to eat the proper foods to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While utilizing food assistance programs like the WIC program or FMNP, Pennsylvanians have the opportunity to learn, develop and form healthy eating habits that can have life-long benefits.”