Food Vouchers Program Opens

Gregory Vellner
Food vouchers program for seniors includes fruit, vegetables.Unsplash

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. -- As the nation’s consumer price index showed food prices up about 7 percent over last year, the Bucks County, Pa. Area Agency on Aging told seniors help is on its way in the form of free food vouchers.

Under the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition Program, eligible residents receive a $24 voucher to purchase fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets.

“The Agency has once again partnered with the state Department of Agriculture to help stock seniors’ pantries with fresh, locally grown produce,” said James O’Malley, spokesman, County of Bucks, noting vouchers are available for each qualified senior through Sept. 30 “or while supplies last.”

Said he: “They can be used to purchase fruits and vegetables at participating farmers markets.”

The program comes at a time when food prices at the supermarket and at restaurants have been rising. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index for all food categories, there’s been an increase of 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent compared to last year.

“It’s the biggest jump in food prices since they rose 7.8 percent in 1981,” said a Labor Bureau spokesman who asked not to be named. “Food away from home in restaurants had prices up 6 percent to 7 percent over last year.”

To be eligible for a voucher, said O’Malley, a person must be a Bucks County resident age 60 or older by the end of the year and meet annual income requirements. He said income includes “wages, rental income, Social Security, child support payments, retirement plan distributions, and other forms of income.”

The program’s 2022 household income eligibility is $25,142 maximum for one person; $33,874 for two; $42,606 for three; $51,338 for four; $60,070 for five, and $68,802 for six. Applications and vouchers are handled at participating senior centers throughout the county, including in Bensalem, Bristol Borough, Bristol Township, Warminster and Central Bucks, among others.

At the Falls Township Senior Center in Fairless Hills, Pa., a number of free vouchers already have been distributed, said a Center representative who asked not to be named.

“We do it on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to noon,” she said. “You come in and fill out an application to see if you qualify, and, if so, you get one then. Turnout has been very good, what with the price of food; tell me about it.”

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As a professional journalist for several years -- reporter, editor, feature writer, columnist -- I handled a range of subjects. Breaking news, investigative series, government action, feature events, and staff feature writer with national entertainment magazine interviewing stars including Tom Selleck, Mel Brooks and Danny DeVito. No matter the topic, certain ingredients are key: truth, facts, objectivity, balance.

Bucks County, PA

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