Farmers market vouchers were distributed at the Burlington County Amphitheater for income-eligible senior citizens earlier this month, courtesy of the county’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Voucher program.
Pop-up farm stands and vendors were on site at the Aug. 5 event and Amy Barra, director of the Burlington County Office on Aging, described what organizations were available to assist the community.
“We’re partnering with WIC (Women, Infant and Children) for a lot of these programs … They also have a farmers market program, so we’ve been doing a lot of partnering with them for these events, trying to get people who are eligible for the WIC farmers market as well as the seniors farmer market,” she said.
“We also have the sheriff’s department out here; they have a lot of programs for seniors so we partner with them on a lot of those programs.”
According to www.co.burlington.nj.us, the WIC program provides nutritional counseling and supplemental foods to pregnant, postpartum and nursing women and their children through age 5. Eligibility is based on income and nutritional need and WIC clinics are located at multiple sites within the county.
“We are here to help our clients,” said Tracy Little, WIC coordinator. “We (have) 24-hour access, so (if) clients (are) struggling, they can call a peer counselor … It’s supplemental, which is key to remember, so we do provide foods that help with (a) nutritional benefit of the person.”
Ericka Haines, director of the Burlington County Animal Shelter, described how the shelter became involved.
“All of our senior residents in Burlington County, (they) are eligible for free adoptions,” she noted. “So what we try to do with our seniors is, we try to find them somebody that’s going to pair up well with them …
“We do have a lot of adult or senior animals that we pair up with seniors, so they both can just live out their best lives and enjoy each other’s company.”
Also in attendance on Aug. 5 was the Burlington County Sheriff’s Office, which offers a variety of senior benefits, including a home security program, med-info program and the Senior Citizens Police Academy.
“ … We partner with the office on aging for several of our programs, and we have the luxury and the privilege of being able to go out and help all the seniors of Burlington County,” said sheriff’s agent Jackie Moore. “… We’re available for all kinds of lectures on home security, bike safety …
“We have a lot of great programs.”
Barra and Shirla Simpson, county human services director, explained the voucher program’s importance in the community.
“It’s just a great way to show seniors how to eat healthy (and) how to find other services that are free of charge for them,” Simpson explained. “We try and make things accessible for our seniors and we try and get the information out to them easier, and this is a fun way to do that for our seniors, to get them outside.”
“A lot of people who are low-income often don’t know that some of these farms are accessible to them,” Barra noted. “The people who shop at farmers markets may not be aware of some of the great things that they can do with their fruits and vegetables.”
Vouchers are also accepted at the Burlington County Farmers Market, held each Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Burlington County Agricultural Center. A list of other markets where vouchers are accepted is posted online at https://www.co.burlington.nj.us/434/Aging.