Fresh idea

HANCOCK COUNTY — Low-income seniors and residents with disabilities are now eligible to receive vouchers to buy produce and other foods at local farmers markets.

The Central Indiana Council on Aging is offering $20 vouchers to residents who meet certain income requirements. The vouchers can be redeemed at several local farmers markets and food stands, including the Farmers Market at the Fairgrounds, Fortville Farmers Market and Tuttle Orchards.

The program, called the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, was established in 2002 but was not available locally until this year.

Seniors ages 60 and older who meet certain income requirements are eligible for the program, as are residents with disabilities who are enrolled in various government food subsidy programs, including SNAP benefits.

The income threshold ranges from about $1,800 in monthly income for an individual and up to $3,750 for a family of four. More information is available at cicoa.org.

The vouchers can be redeemed at eligible locations through October. The program will reopen again in June 2017.

About 900 vouchers are available to central Indiana counties through the program, said Tiffany Cox, a registered dietician and wellness coordinator for the council on aging.

Cox, a coordinator for the voucher program, said it’s designed to encourage seniors to purchase the fresh fruits and vegetables made available at farmers markets.

Many seniors typically dismiss the idea of going to a farmers market and rely on large grocery store chains to do their shopping. But those sources don’t always offer the same quality of food, particularly produce, available at farmers markets, officials said.

Linda Hart, executive director of Hancock County Senior Services, said the program will ease seniors’ access to healthy foods.

In doing so, it will also encourage residents to socialize with other residents, Hart added.

Recipients will receive four $5 vouchers that can be used on an array of products at farmers markets, including unprepared fruits and vegetables, herbs and honey.

In addition to providing healthy foods to eligible residents, the program bolsters efforts to support local farmers, which keeps dollars flowing in the local economy, Cox said.

Barb Smith, who coordinates both the Cumberland Farmers Market and the Farmers Market at the Fairgrounds, said she hopes the program will draw new faces to the events.

She plans to make a request to get representatives from the council on aging to host a sign-up event at an upcoming farmers market.

To learn more about the program, contact a representative from the council on aging by calling 317-803-6042.

Who qualifies?

The Central Indiana Council on Aging is offering $20 vouchers to local farmers markets for seniors 60 and older who meet certain income requirements, along with residents with disabilities who are enrolled in various government food subsidy programs, including SNAP benefits.

The income guidelines for the program is as follows:

Household size/monthly income:

1: $1,832

2: $2,470

3: $3,108

4: $3,747

5: $4,385

To find out more, visit cicoa.org or call the organization at 317-803-6042.

Vouchers may be redeemed at the following locations:

Farmers Market at the Fairgrounds, 602 N. Apple St., Greenfield

Fortville Farmers Market, 701 S. Maple St., Fortville

Tuttle Orchards, 5717 N. County Road 300W, Greenfield

Author photo
Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or dmorgan@greenfieldreporter.com.