Coupons benefit senior citizens, farmers

Published 5:50 pm Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Chilton County’s senior citizens will soon have an opportunity to buy produce at a discounted rate while giving area farmers an economic boost.

The Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A) is offering farmers market coupons to low-income seniors through the Alabama Farmers Market Authority and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Coupons will be offered at Thorsby City Hall on Thursday, June 3 from 8 a.m. until noon and from 1-4 p.m. A limited number of coupons will be available to Chilton County residents who meet age and income requirements.

“The goal of the program is not only to help the seniors but also to help agriculture in the area,” said Kelly Flick, director of programs for M4A.

The program was created to ensure that lower income families receive nutritious, home-grown fruits and vegetables, while at the same time increasing farmers’ client base and income.

Healthy seniors mean potentially less visits to the doctor, a longer lifespan and safer living. Increased demand for fruits and vegetables from farmers means greater sales and income.

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of farmers markets across the state as a direct result of the program, according to M4A. These additional markets increase the entire community’s access to healthy eating.

“This is a really popular program with our seniors, and I’m pleased that the federal government is able to offer it,” Flick said.

The coupons are accepted at designated farmers markets in Alabama. According to the Alabama Farmers Market Authority, participating markets in Chilton County are: McCraw Peaches, Todd’s Produce, Harrison Fruit Farms, Durbin Farms Market, Lawley Fruit Stand, Burnette Farms, Jerry Harrison, and Culp Fruits. If a market is not on the list, you may call to see if they are participating.

Flick was excited about the participation of Thorsby in the program and said the town is a new location for coupon distribution.

“The city of Thorsby is pleased to provide this service to the seniors in our community and the surrounding area,” said Thorsby Mayor Dearl Hilyer. “There is certainly a need for this program amongst our elderly, and I look forward to the benefits it will bring to our community.”

Coupons are available to Chilton County residents who are 60 years of age and older and whose gross income does not exceed $18,200 per year for a household of one; $24,500 per year for a household of two; or $30,800 for a household of three.

Proof of income is not required, but seniors are encouraged to bring proof of age (driver’s license, birth certificate, etc.). A limited number of vouchers is available and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.