Low-income Sussex seniors can receive vouchers for Delaware farmers’ markets

DOVER — A new program, funded by the Delaware Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will provide fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and honey at no cost to low-income Sussex County senior citizens at four farmers’ markets in the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes area.

“We know food insecurity is a huge issue facing many of our seniors in Delaware,” Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse said. “In making decisions on what to pay for — housing, medical, or food — the reality is some seniors choose to sacrifice nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables.

“It has been a priority for our Department to obtain funding to support the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. The $20,000 provided by the General Assembly and with the recent award of $30,000 from USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service, we will be able to help more than 2,100 eligible seniors in Sussex County.”

The purposes of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) are to provide fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, cut herbs and honey from farmers’ markets to low-income seniors and to increase the consumption of agricultural commodities by aiding in the expansion and development of local farmers’ markets.

“Delaware has made it a priority to increase access to nutritious food because it is important to improving the health of all Delawareans,” said Gov. John Carney. “The addition of the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is incredibly important to our state not only by providing Delaware-grown fruits and vegetables to those who meet the criteria, but it also helps us support our state’s family farmers who take so much pride in growing the fresh produce.”

Seniors may register for the program at scheduled times at local senior centers.

Eligible seniors will receive a booklet of four $5 coupons (for a total of $20) which can be used at participating farmers’ markets to purchase their choice of fresh, locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs or honey.

Recipients may redeem the coupons through Oct. 31 and may designate another person to shop for them if they are unable to attend a farmers’ market.

To participate in the program, seniors must be a resident of Delaware, be 60 years or older and have a household income not exceeding 185 percent of the current federal poverty guidelines.

Participating farmers’ markets include:

• Historic Lewes Farmers’ Market at George H.P. Smith Park, DuPont & Johnson Avenues, Lewes, held Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.

• Historic Lewes Farmers’ Market at Kings Highway at Crooked Hammock Brewery, 37707 Crooked Hammock Way, Lewes, held Wednesdays from 8 to 11 a.m.

• Nassau Valley Vineyards Farmers’ Market at 32165 Winery Way, Lewes, held Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.

• Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market at Grove Park adjacent to Lighthouse Circle, Rehoboth Beach, held Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Coupons will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning in late June and continuing while funds are available.

Applications will not be mailed out and will not be accepted prior to June 26. A wait list is kept for eligible seniors who do not receive coupons due to a shortfall in available coupons.

Seniors can register to receive the SFMNP vouchers:

• Tuesday, June 26, 9 a.m. to noon at Lewes Senior Center, 32083 Janice Road, Lewes;

• Thursday, June 28, 9 to 11 a.m. at Cape Henlopen Senior Center, 11 Christian Street, Rehoboth Beach; and

• Tuesday, July 3, 10:30 a.m. to noon at Lewes CHEER Activity Center, 34211 Woods Edge Drive, Lewes.

Additional distribution dates will be announced in July.

For more information on the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, contact Kathy Jackson, Department of Agriculture Marketing Specialist at Kathy.Jackson@state.de.us.

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