Meadville Tribune

Opinion

July 3, 2013

Consumers and farmers benefit from farmers market program

Pennsylvania’s farmers markets and farm stands are bursting with fresh, local produce and shoppers looking for the perfect fruits and vegetables for their families. Yet, for far too many families, this nutritious produce is just out of reach.

About 10 percent of Pennsylvanians are at risk for hunger and are only an emergency, missed paycheck or unexpected bill away from not knowing where they’ll get their next meal. Fresh produce may not be a staple of their diets. In a state with a nearly year-round harvest, this reality is unthinkable.

Our farmers produce the food that feeds the world. The Farmers Market Nutrition Program is helping everyone enjoy their harvest.

This program provides four $5 vouchers to low-income older adults and participants in the Women, Infant and Children, or WIC, program. The $20 worth of vouchers can be redeemed for fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets and farm stands from June through November.

Tight budgets prevent many people from eating healthy because of the misconception that fast, processed food is cheaper than fresh food. But you can buy a lot of produce for $20 — at least a dozen ears of sweet corn, a head of lettuce, a pint of raspberries, a half-dozen potatoes, a cantaloupe, several zucchini and a quart of green beans.

Thanks to the program, each year about 353,000 older adults and WIC participants enjoy nutritious produce that provides essential vitamins and minerals. Instead of processed food, they get fresh food that not only tastes better, but is healthier, too. Though some consumers may be intimidated by fresh produce, they can get information about preparation, taste and freshness directly from the people who grew it.

The program also helps farmers. The producers who participate in the program at more than 1,000 participating farmers markets and farm stands are reimbursed for the produce bought with vouchers. Plus, they’re getting the chance to build relationships with more customers, adding to customer loyalty and repeat business.

Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that provides state funding in addition to federal grants for the $7 million program. As a result, more consumers and farmers can benefit.

To sign up as a participating producer, contact the department’s Bureau of Food Distribution at (717) 772-2693.

If you think you might be eligible to receive vouchers, contact your local Area Agency on Aging or WIC agency for additional information, including locations, dates and times of voucher distributions. Vouchers are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

More information: Visit agriculture.state.pa.us and search “farmers market.”

Greig, a Linesville resident, is the Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary.

1
Text Only
Opinion
Business Marquee
AP Video
Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks