Where are the farmers market vouchers for Pike's senior citizens?

Demand for the vouchers is high: More are available, but Pike did not request them after running out last month

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By Marilyn Rosenthal

— On Aug. 1, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding announced in a press release that as part of the Wolf Administration’s strategy for a hunger-free Pennsylvania, eligible residents can access fresh Pennsylvania-grown produce at no cost through the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs. Eligibility is for people 60 years old and older with incomes not exceeding $22,459 per year for a single person, or $30,451 for a household of two.

When we first contacted Robin LoDolce, Executive Director of the Pike County Area Agency on Aging, she said: “We love the program, and we are glad we have participating farmers markets in our area that can use them. We have been receiving 500 vouchers for 10 years. Each person gets four vouchers for $5, totaling $20. The participating farms are Blueberry Farm, Ritter Farm, and farmers markets in Matamoras and Hawley.”

She added that this year the 500 vouchers received in June ran out by July. That is, many more people wanted them.

Case in point: the Courier received a letter from a local senior, Bill McGaughey, saying that he read our article on page 2 of the Aug. 3 edition about the program. But when he called the local agency on aging for further information, no one knew about the program, and someone said eligibility had ended in June. Not true!

So, where are the vouchers?

Shannon Powers, Deputy Director of Communications for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, told the Courier: “The Pike County Area on Aging has not kept a waiting list nor requested more vouchers. If they do that, they may get allotted more vouchers.”

The program ends in November.

The Courier communicated this to LoDolce last week, when she said she would check with her USDA contact.

LoDolce says this week that there now is a waiting list with about five names on it. Pike will request more vouchers, she said, but it is not guaranteed they will be available from the agriculture department.

Seniors eligible for this program should call the Pike County Area Agency on Aging at 570-775-5550 and asked to be put on the waiting list for the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.

Related story"Eligible residents can get free produce at farmers markets": https://bit.ly/2o0KGWt

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