Be Local means fighting hunger while supporting area farmers

June 20, 2018

  • By Frances Borsodi Zajac
  • Jun 19, 2018
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State agriculture Secretary Russell Redding recently announced vouchers are available for the Women Infants and Children along with Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, aimed at reducing hunger through Pennsylvania-grown produce.

Fighting hunger and supporting area farmers is a great way to Be Local.

“The Farmers Market Nutrition Program is an excellent program that benefits not only the older adults who receive the vouchers but also local farmers who provide the produce,’’ commented Robin Youger, operations supervisor for Southwestern Pennsylvania Area Agency on Aging that serves Fayette, Greene and Washington Counties.

In a press release issued from Harrisburg, Redding commented, “Good nutrition is critical at any age, and we know that one of the best ways to receive nutritional benefit is from fresh fruits and vegetables. By providing Pennsylvanians with access to local, nutritious foods, we are putting a premium on both the health of our local economies and the health of the people who live in towns and cities across the commonwealth.’’

The release explained WIC and Senior Farms 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 from June through November.

Women and children ages 1 to 4 who are participating in WIC are eligible to receive vouchers that are provided at quarterly WIC clinic visits.

Fayette County Community Action Agency Inc. announced a special distribution of the farmers’ market vouchers will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 27 at the Uniontown WIC Clinic, second floor of the Fayette County Community Action Family Service Center, 140 N. Beeson Ave., Uniontown and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 28 at the Connellsville WIC Clinic, 129-A N. 8th St., Connellsville.

A release from FCCAA explained no appointments are necessary, however, clients are asked to bring their voucher holder and ID card. Clients who are unable to pick up their vouchers June 27 or 28 will receive them at their regularly scheduled WIC appointments in June, July, August, or September.

With the vouchers, WIC clients will receive nutrition education, a list of participating local farmers’ markets and a list of eligible fruits and vegetables.

FCCAA WIC will also host a day of fun for children and their families from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 27 at the Uniontown WIC Office with games, giveaways and food tastings. Participants will have an opportunity to learn about the other programs available at FCCAA as well as other local health and human service agencies. A mobile farmers’ market will be set up so that WIC participants can have the opportunity to use some of their checks that day.

Everyone is welcome to attend the day of fun and learn about WIC and the other great programs available in the community. You do not have to be a WIC participant to attend, FCCAA noted.

For more information, call the Uniontown WIC Office at 724-437-6050, ext. 3211, or the Connellsville WIC Office at 724-628-2460.

Meanwhile, eligible seniors for the vouchers must be 60 years old by Dec. 31, 2018 and have incomes that do not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $22,459 per year for a single person or $30,451 for a household of two.

Youger said eligible seniors must pick up the vouchers in the county in which they live.

“Call your local senior center about voucher availability,’’ she advised.

Once you have the vouchers, you can visit participating markets to redeem them.

While information will also be distributed to seniors, participating markets can be found at Voucher holders can search for a participating market in their area or an area they are visiting. Participants may redeem vouchers through Nov. 30, according to the press release.

Officials reported the state provided $2,079,000 for the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs in 2017. In combination with federal funds, this made a total of $5,820,452 available to low-income Pennsylvanians for nutritious, locally grown foods during market season.

The state said last year participating farmers accepted more than $4.4 million in vouchers. Gov. Tom Wolf has requested $2.079 million for the program in his 2018-19 budget.

Youger noted, “The people who receive the vouchers are very happy. Twenty dollars of fresh fruits and vegetables can make such a difference in their lives. People familiar with the program anticipate it every year.’’

Those interested in joining the Be Local Network can contact Ted Flowers at 724-425-7231 or by email at Discount cards are available at the Herald-Standard, 8 E. Church St., Uniontown, and at the Greene County Messenger, 82 W. High St., Waynesburg.

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