Seniors able to get free fresh foods with farmer’s market program

HARTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – A Farmers Market Nutrition Program that offers vouchers to seniors for free food begins June 1.

The program operates through the South Carolina Department of Social Services and is meant to help eligible low-income seniors so they can buy fresh produce from local farmers. The Farmers Market Nutrition Program is offered to seniors age 60 and older, and awards participants vouchers to use at places like South Carolina Farmers Roadside stands and farmers markets.

The program serves about 25,000 seniors across South Carolina, and the vouchers are available in 41 counties within the state. The vouchers can be used from June until October 15.

“The reason there is a need for a program like this is because seniors are on a limited budget,” explains Emily Northcutt, Program Coordinator for Darlington County Council on Aging. “They do not have the resources to buy fresh fruits and vegetables from local markets or local grocery stores, because they are pricey.”

When the seniors pick up their vouchers for the fresh fruits and vegetables, a representative is available to speak with them about the importance of staying healthy and how to benefit from the program.

“My grandfather used to plant a garden,” recalls Kasey Anderson, whose grandmother receives the vouchers. “All of my life he’s always had a garden. We have always had fresh vegetables, and when he passed away two years ago, we weren’t able to have those anymore, and when my grandmother was able to get the voucher, we can still get those fresh vegetables. She cooks Sunday dinner every Sunday. They are just a big help for her.”

To learn more about how to apply for the program, connect with Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program Coordinator Stacey Richardson at 1-800-616-1309 or via email Stacey.Richardson@dss.sc.gov.