UNION — More than 200 seniors received nearly $5,600 worth of coupons they can use to purchase fresh produce at the local Farmers Market during the first of two coupon distributions at the Union Senior Citizens Center.
Tuesday was the first distribution of this year’s allocation of Senior’s Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons to the Union County Council on Aging. The Council on Aging has been allocated $10,000 worth of the coupons for distribution to 400 low-income seniors. On Tuesday, the Council on Aging began distributing its allotment of coupons.
Council on Aging Director Tim Black said that coupons with a net value of $5,575 were distributed to 223 qualified seniors Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday’s distribution was supposed to be from 1-4 p.m., but Black said Council on Aging employees and volunteers were still processing the applications and distributing coupons an hour after he had to lock the doors.
“We had so many turn out yesterday that when I had to lock the doors at four it was five before we were done,” Black said Wednesday morning. “It was a very eventful day.”
Each qualified senior received $25 worth of coupons and Black said it will benefit both the seniors who will be able to use them to purchase fresh produce and local farmers who will enjoy increased sales because of the program.
The Senior’s Farmers Market Nutrition Program is a program of the South Carolina Department of Social Services. According to the DSS website (dss.sc.gov) the program “provides fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs from farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs to low-income seniors. The program also seeks to increase the consumption of agricultural commodities by expanding, developing, or aiding in the development and expansion of domestic farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community supported agriculture programs.”
Tuesday’s distribution was the first of two coupon distributions that will be held at the Union Senior Citizens Center. The second will be on Thursday, June 9 from 1-4 p.m. and Black said that at that time the remaining coupons — enough for 177 qualified seniors and with a net value of $4,25 — will be distributed.
In order to qualify for the coupons, a person must be 60 years of age or older and be low-income. Black said that sign ups for the coupons must take place on the day of distribution as advance sign-ups or over the phone or online are not permitted. When a person signs up for the coupons, Black said they must have proof of their identity such as a driver’s license or other identification card and must provide proof that they live in Union County.
Black also stressed that if a person sends someone to pick up coupons for them, they must send the required documentation plus a written statement authorizing that person as their representative. If they do not have that Black said the representative will not be permitted to pick up the coupons.
“That happened yesterday,” Black said. “I had to turn some people away because they didn’t have it. We don’t want that to happen again.”
For more information about the Senior’s Farmers Market Nutrition Program call Peggy O’Dell at 864-429-1682.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.