From Lancaster Farming
HARRISBURG, Pa. — To remind residents of the importance of consuming nutritious produce, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne signed a joint designation this week in recognition of June as the official start of the Farmers Market Nutrition Program in Pennsylvania.
While visiting the Pennsylvania Farmers Open Air Market at the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, the two Cabinet secretaries encouraged eligible residents — particularly seniors and participants in the Women, Infants and Children program — to redeem their vouchers by Nov. 30.
“The Farmers Market Nutrition Program is about access for our residents,” Redding said. “These vouchers allow residents, specifically seniors and WIC participants, to have access to wholesome, nutritious produce provided by farm families from throughout Pennsylvania.
“This allows them to have healthy diets, which work to prevent illness and disease,” he said, “but specifically for our youth, helps them perform better academically, which aids them in other areas in life.”
Pennsylvania is home to more than 1,000 farmers markets and farm stands. Statewide, there are 202 farmers markets and 828 roadside farm stands participating in the program, which began running June 1 and will continue through Nov. 30.
The programs provide WIC recipients and low-income seniors with fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs from approved farmers markets in Pennsylvania.
WIC provides supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education to low-income pregnant and post-partum women, and to infants and children up to age 5 who are found to be nutritionally at-risk. Eligibility for this program is determined through local WIC agencies.
Both WIC and senior FMNP participants can use four $5 vouchers per person, which are distributed once a year.
The vouchers cannot be used for processed foods such as jams, honey, nuts, cider or baked goods, or for citrus or tropical fruits.
Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that provide funding in addition to federal grants for the program. As a result, all of Pennsylvania is covered by the program.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s proposed budget for 2016-17 includes a $2.08 million funding increase for the program, which would bring total funding next year to more than $5.7 million.
Source: Pa. Department of Agriculture