New options for seniors to get produce

Photo by Janelle Patterson Patronage at the River City Farmers Market has increased over the last two months as weather has warmed and individuals have returned to work through the after effects of coronavirus.

Seniors who are used to picking out their own produce through the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition program have another option until July 1.

Jennifer Westfall, Aging and Disability director for Buckeye Hills Regional Council, said they were told the traditional farmers market couldn’t start until at least July 1 because of the coronavirus.

“That date could change. We anticipate that date changing at any moment,” she said, noting it is up to the government as to the date.

She said she had concerns and thoughts about getting area seniors fresh produce. They were tasked with finding a program that could still get the food to the seniors, but keep them safe.

“We came up with a plan that would utilize the option, the Bulk Purchase Option,” she said.

The option would allow for the council to pre-purchase produce. When the seniors receive their coupons for produce and use them to purchase food from participating farmers, the farmers will turn the coupons in and get reimbursed. There will be curbside service from the designated farmer or market.

Participating farmers and markets for the bulk purchase option are the Athens Farmers Market on Wednesdays only; The Bushel Basket; The Witten Farm Market and Greenhouse; the Meigs County Farmers’ Market; and Hensler’s Town and Country Market in Marietta.

Westfall said the seniors can receive coupons worth $50 each year. This year, they can use $25 for the pre-purchased food, then $25 through the traditional method. The coupons are first come, first served.

“If they don’t use their $25 through the pre-purchase, they can use them through the traditional way after July 1,” Westfall said. “It’s so popular, that’s where the first come, first served comes from. It’s widely popular.”

The traditional way is the senior takes their coupons to participating farmers and they can pick out their produce. With the pre-purchase option, the farmer may choose the produce.

Cathy Ash, program manager and caregiver advocate at Buckeye Hills, said it depends on what farmer or market where they go to shop as to what produce they get.

“Some of the smaller farms will let them pick which produce they get,” she said.

The council recognized the impact of the program, the impact on the seniors getting fresh produce and the impact on the farmers.

Washington County was allocated 441 coupons to distribute. The council is taking applications. Seniors have until Oct. 31 to spend the 10 $5 coupons.

“People can go online and fill out the application electronically on our website (buckeyehills.org). They can print out the application from the website and mail it in,” Ash said. “Senior centers have them. They can also call us to get an application.”

She added the program is so popular there can be a waiting list.

“Last year we got donations that took everyone off the waiting list,” Ash said.

Michele Newbanks can be reached at mnewbanks@mariettatimes.com.

Participating farms and markets

Call for details on curbside pickup:

•Athens Farmers Market – 740-593-6763.

• The Bushel Basket – 740-651-3618.

•The Witten Farm Market and Greenhouse – Call specific location for details.

•Meigs County Farmers’ Market – 740-517-9668.

•Hensler’s Town and Country Market – Call specific location for details.

Source: Buckeye Hills Regional Council.


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