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Eligible Pennsylvania residents will be able to receive fresh produce through two state programs

(Photo by John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images)

HARRISBURG – Eligible Pennsylvania residents will be able to access fresh, Pennsylvania-grown produce free of charge through the Women Infants and Children and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition programs, the Wolf administration announced Monday.

It is part of the Wolf administration’s strategy for a hunger-free Pennsylvania, according to Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding.

“Good nutrition is critical at any age, and we know that one of the best ways to receive nutritional benefit is from fresh fruits and vegetables,” Redding said in a press release. “By providing Pennsylvanians with access to local, nutritious foods, we are putting a premium on both the health of our local economies and the health of the people who live in towns and cities across the commonwealth.”

From June through November, the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs provide low-income seniors and eligible participants in the WIC program with vouchers to purchase Pennsylvania-grown fruits, vegetables, and fresh-cut herbs from approved farm markets and farm stands across the commonwealth.

To be eligible, seniors must be 60 years old by December 31, 2018, and have incomes that do not exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is currently $22,459 per year for a single person or $30,451 for a household of two. Eligible seniors can contact their local Area Agency on Aging for information on the program and times and locations of voucher distributions.

Women and children ages 1-4 who are participating in WIC are eligible to receive vouchers under the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program. Vouchers are provided at quarterly WIC clinic visits.

Participating markets can be found at pafmnp.com.

Additionally, voucher holders can search for a participating market in their area or an area they are visiting. Participants may redeem vouchers from June 1 through November 30, 2018.        

In 2017, the state provided $2,079,000 for the WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Programs, which, in combination with federal funds, made a total of $5,820,452 available to low-income Pennsylvanians for nutritious, locally grown foods during market season. Last year, participating farmers accepted more than $4.4 million in vouchers. Governor Wolf has requested $2.079 million for the program in his 2018-19 budget.