HUNTINGTON — A well-liked program that gives contemporary, regionally grown meals to West Virginia seniors is returning in August.
The West Virginia Division of Agriculture (WVDA) this week introduced the return of the Senior Farmers Market Diet Program. This system was delayed earlier this yr on account of an absence of a banking contract. With the contract now in place, vouchers shall be delivered to taking part companions and be accessible to senior residents beginning Aug. 1. The WVDA is working to keep away from this challenge for the 2022 season, in keeping with a launch.
“What we noticed in West Virginia just isn’t distinctive to our state,” Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt mentioned within the launch. “Many different applications across the nation are struggling to search out banking companions to deal with redemption of the vouchers. The USDA is conscious of the problem and is working via how one can modify the federal program so states can proceed serving our senior residents.”
Senior Farmers Market Diet vouchers shall be distributed to all 55 counties in West Virginia by the WVDA via the U.S. Division of Agriculture’s program. Vouchers might be exchanged for contemporary, nutritious, unprepared, regionally grown fruits, greens, honey and herbs from taking part farmers markets, roadside stands and group supported agriculture applications. Eligible seniors who’re over the age of 60 and meet sure monetary necessities can join via their native senior facilities.
Charles Holley, government director of the Cabell County Group Providers Heart, mentioned the voucher program is standard with the seniors they serve.
Final yr, the road was two blocks lengthy at simply certainly one of 4 distribution websites.
“Particularly right here in West Virginia and Cabell County, we’ve been identified for years as probably the most unhealthy, overweight areas within the nation,” Holley mentioned. “A complete lot of that’s attributed to poor consuming habits. Any alternative to have regionally grown, contemporary produce as an alternative choice to a number of the issues we’ve been consuming that’s inflicting well being issues is a profit to our seniors. It’s an extremely standard program. A number of the issues folks buy is junk meals as a result of it’s low cost. Contemporary produce might be value prohibitive. Having that additional $30 can imply a complete lot.”
The variety of vouchers CCCSO acquired in 2020 went down from 1,600 in 2019 to only 600. Holley mentioned he hopes COVID-19 funding will enable for the quantity to return up.
“Folks have been knocking on our doorways for the reason that winter wanting vouchers,” he mentioned.
In 2020, the WVDA and its companions distributed a complete of 16,800 vouchers to seniors in West Virginia. A complete of 349 farmers, 101 farm stands and one farmers market participated in this system by accepting the vouchers. In Cabell County, the vouchers are accepted at The Wild Ramp in Previous Central Metropolis in Huntington and the Barboursville Farmers Market.
Reporter Taylor Caught might be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Observe her on Twitter and Fb @TaylorStuckHD.