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Limited Vouchers Available for Seniors in Ashe and Watauga To Participate in Farmers Market Nutrition Program

By Sherrie Norris

Two High Country counties are among those participating in this year’s NC Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.

According to the NC Department of Health and Human Services, eligible senior residents of Ashe and Watauga counties may be able to enjoy fresh goods from certified farmers’ markets in their areas for a limited time.

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program is a summer-only program that provides vouchers to eligible lower-income older adults to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, honey, and fresh cut herbs at program certified farmers’ markets. 

This summertime program is designed to improve the nutrition of older adults and increase business for local farmers and farmers’ markets. 

Typically, the NC SFMNP season is from July 1 to September 30, and as was the case in 2023, the program is not available in all NC counties, when only about half of the state’s 100 counties participated. 

 The program provides a one-time set of vouchers to eligible participants valued at $50 for the season. Eligible participants will need to complete an application through the local agency that handles program applications and voucher distribution. 

According to Karen Appert, Program Manager with the NC Division of Aging in Raleigh, to be eligible for the Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be 60 years of age or older, reside in a participating county and have a household income of no more than 185% of the 2024 Federal Poverty Level ($2,322 or less per month for a one-person household; $3,152 or less per month for a two-person household.

The North Carolina Division of Aging receives a limited amount of funds from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for SFMNP vouchers each year. And since this is not an entitlement program, SFMNP vouchers are not guaranteed.

“Even if a person meets the eligibility requirements above, there may not be enough funds for all eligible persons to receive SFMNP vouchers,”  Appert added.

For information about SFMNP applications and voucher distribution, seniors or their representative should contact the senior agency in their country of residence:

Generations Ashe, 180 Chattyrob Lane, West Jefferson; Phone: 336-246-2461; Website: https://asheaging.com

Watauga County Project on Aging 

Phone: 828-265-8090

Website: https://www.wataugacounty.org/App_Pages/Dept/Aging/home.aspx

Below are the participating SFMNP-certified markets in Watauga and Ashe counties: 

  • Ashe County Farmers Market, 108 Backstreet, West Jefferson 
  • King Street Market, 126 Poplar Grove Connector, Boone 
  • Watauga County Farmers Market, 591 Horn in the West Drive, Boone 

For additional information:  visit  https://www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/aging-and-adult-services/north-carolina-seniors-farmers-market-nutrition-program
Complete the 2024 NC SFMNP Voucher Interest Form to add your name to the voucher interest list. But note that this is not an application for the program.