Voucher program begins for Farmer’s Market

Published 3:00 am Saturday, January 31, 2015

The State Farmer’s Market Authority is now accepting on-line applications for the Senior Voucher Program (SFMNP).  The program provides a direct tie between production agriculture and nutrition by providing seniors the opportunity to buy fresh local produce directly from farmers.

Grant Lyons, Pike County Extension coordinator, said the Pike County Extension Office is volunteering to assist with the online application process.

“Completing an application is no guarantee that you will receive vouchers,” Lyons said. “Those who are interested in the assistance the Extension office can provide or just want more information about the Senior Voucher Program are encouraged to contact  Sheron Mitchell at the Extension office at 334-566-0985.  The office is located at 306 South Three Notch Street in Troy.”

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Lyons said the first goal of the program are to provide fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from farmers markets and roadside stands to low-income seniors.

“The program also seeks to increase domestic consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding or aiding in the expansion of farmers markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs,” Lyons said. “The voucher program goal include  developing  or aiding  in the development of new and additional farmers markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs.”

Lyons said no person is “entitled” to SFMNP checks.

“The budget does not allow enough checks to satisfy everyone who wishes to receive them and is eligible,”he said. “Issuance is on a first come-first serve basis until all available funds are expended.”

In order to be eligible to apply for the program,  a person must be 60 years of age or older on the day of the application and the household income must not exceed the specified amount for the number of people in the household.

For a household of one, the monthly income must not exceed $1,606. For a household of two the income must not exceed, $2,163; for a household of three, $2,721; for a household of four, $3,279; for a household of five, $3,838; for a household of six, $4, 396.

Both the age and income criteria must be met in order to receive SFMNP coupons.

Those who are approved will receive their  vouchers by mail to be used at Farmers Market Authority (FMA) approved markets and roadside stands. The coupons/vouchers must be expended by November 15 of the calendar year in which they are received.

The Senior FMNP is administered by the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, Farmers Market Authority Section to provide coupons to low-income seniors that are 60 years of age or older that can be used to purchase eligible foods (fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh-cut herbs) from farmers that grow them and are selling them directly to you at local farmers markets and roadside stands.

Applications may be completed and submitted on the Farmers Market Authority website as www.fma.alabama.gov.