With the arrival of spring comes the annual distribution of farmers market vouchers.
Distribution will be held at the Office of Aging and senior centers starting Thursday. The Centre County Office of Aging has a limited supply; this is a first come, first serve program.
Eligibility guidelines are by both age and income. Individuals who will be 60 by Dec. 31, 2017 must also meet the financial guidelines — $22,311 per individual and $30,044 for two people. Income is self-declared; no documentation is needed, but requires a signature on the federal form verifying guidelines are met.
Each eligible person receives four $5 checks for a total of $20 once each year. The checks are for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown in Pennsylvania — benefiting both the recipient and the farmer. Checks must be spent at a participating vendor at a farmers market. They cannot be spent in a grocery store. Farmer-vendors can be identified by a bright green sign at their booths. If there isn’t any signage, simply ask the farmer if they accept the checks. Lists of markets are available at the senior centers or at the Office of Aging.
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People must get the checks in the county they live in but can be spent in any county in Pennsylvania. For example, residents of Centre County must get their vouchers here but can spend them at any approved farmers market, including Belleville, Lewisburg, etc. The first day of use is Thursday, and all must be used by Nov. 30.
When you pick up the checks at one of the following locations, please make sure to bring proof of age and residency in Centre County — a driver’s license or Pa. photo ID. If you don’t have one of these, bring a birth certificate and a utility bill that has your local address.
Checks are available 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday at the Centre County Office of Aging, 420 Holmes St., Bellefonte.
Checks will also be available at area senior resource centers:
Bellefonte Senior Center, 9:30-11:30 a.m. Thursday, 110 N. Spring St., Bellefonte. 355-6720.
Centre Region Active Adult Center, 9-11 a.m. Friday, Nittany Mall, No. 990, 2901 E. College Ave., State College. 231-3076.
Philipsburg Senior Center, 12:30-3 p.m. Friday, 300 N. Front St., Philipsburg. 342-6549.
Centre Hall Senior Center, 8:30-10:30 a.m. June 6, Centre Hall Fire Hall, Pennsylvania Avenue, Centre Hall. 364-9511.
Penns Valley Senior Resource Center, 8-9:30 a.m. June 12, 102 Leisure Lane, Madisonburg. 349-8188.
There is a proxy form available for those who are eligible for the voucher and are not able to get to one of these sites to get the checks. A proxy must be presented when picking up checks for another person. The proxy form must be signed by the senior participant (the eligible person) before checks can be issued. The proxy (the person picking up the checks) must also sign the form. The proxy forms can be picked up in advance at any senior center or at the Office of Aging.
Those who have received the vouchers in the past have shared how much they enjoy and appreciate being able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. “I can’t wait until it is strawberry season” or “I spend it all on tomatoes so I can make sauce and can it — I enjoy it all year” or “the corn they grow is so delicious” are comments made many times.
For more information, call 355-6716 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandy Schuckers is an administrative officer at Centre County Office of Aging.