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Program brings fresh food to seniors

POSTED June 27, 2009 2:28 p.m.
Low-income senior citizens in Stanislaus county can get free produce from local farmers’ markets through a program sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Stanislaus County Department of Aging and Veterans will distribute one $20 coupon booklet to each qualifying senior. To qualify, seniors have to live in Stanislaus county, be age 60 or over, and make an income of $1,604 or less per month. Couples can qualify if they make less than $2,159 a month combined income.  
Jill Erickson, manager and linkages program site director for the Stanislaus County Department of Aging and Veterans Services, said that this program was designed to promote better nutrition among senior citizens. The coupons can be used to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and comb or liquid honey at any certified farmers’ market in the county.
Seniors can claim their coupon booklets at the Oakdale, Modesto, Riverbank, Patterson, or Ceres farmers’ markets on designated days. Turlock does not currently have a certified farmers’ market, but Turlock residents can claim and use their coupons at any of the five participating markets.
Coupons will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Downtown Modesto Farmers’ Market will have 300 coupon booklets to distribute to seniors. Each of the smaller markets with have 100 booklets. Booklet distribution is on the honor system, but Erickson asks that seniors only pick up one booklet per year.
Seniors who are home-bound can designate a friend, caregiver, or relative to pick up a coupon booklet for them. Seniors must sign and submit a proxy form that allows caregivers to pick up the booklet on their behalf. Proxy forms can be obtained by calling 558-8698.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail agoodwin@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2003

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