Farmers market to help lower-income families make more purchases

The Boyle County Farmers Market, which opens Saturday, May 1, will again participate in four voucher programs aimed at helping lower-income families purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables this summer.

The programs include: SNAP Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program); WIC (Women, Infant and Children) Farmers Market Nutrition Program; SFMNP (Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program); and Kentucky Double Dollars.

The Double Dollars is a statewide program where farmers markets memberships fund the program. The money is distributed to the individual markets which in turn match the face value of SNAP, WIC and SFMNP vouchers used there.

SFMNP is administered by the Blue Grass Community Action Partnership in Boyle, Lincoln, Garrard and Mercer counties. To qualify, participants must be age 60 or older and are at or below the federal poverty levels — for a one-person household of $23,82; and two-person household of $32,227.

The face value of each senior voucher was $6 last year, and there were five vouchers per packet, for a total of $30. This program, along with the Double Dollars will begin in early summer, when more produce is at the market.

The participant can spend up to two vouchers per market visit. So adding the available market supported Double Dollars, someone who spends two vouchers for $12, will actually get $24 to spend on fresh fruits and veggies.

Margaret Horton said she is excited for the farmers market to open this season and depends on her SFMNP vouchers to buy her fresh fruits and vegetables — fruits are her favorite, she said.

“I love the cantaloupe and all the melons,” and the tomatoes, green beans and corn, Horton added.

“I don’t think I could do without it (the senior market vouchers.) It has helped me tremendously.”

Horton said she tries to go to the market at Constitution Square just about every Saturday. Horton said, “If I see somebody who could use the help, I tell them to go to the Blue Grass agency and fill out an application. It’s well worth it.”

She added, “They do try to help everybody.

Seniors can apply for the SFMNP vouchers by calling and making an appointment at the Boyle County BGCAP office at 859-236-2955.

The WIC farmers market program begins July 1 and runs through Sept. 30 and is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Once the health department receives its allotted vouchers WIC participants can make an appointment to get their vouchers, or can get them during their regular clinical visit at the health department.

WIC participants will receive four, $4 vouchers, to a total of $16.

BCHD Executive Director Brent Blevins anyone who has questions about eligibility for the WIC program can contact his office or visit the WIC Program website for information and income guidelines. Last year, the health department had 501 women and children enrolled in WIC and distributed 296 farmers market vouchers, Blevins said.

The federally funded SNAP benefits are accepted at the market in any amount that the individual wants to spend. And, they can be spent on anything that can be purchased at a grocery story. The Double Dollars program for SNAP participants will match up to $12 for fruits and vegetables per market visit and up to $8 for meat, eggs and dairy per market day.