WESTMINSTER >> Mid to late summer is a perfect time to visit the local farmers market for some fresh, seasonal vegetables.
"Farm to Family" coupons are a great resource to help qualified households access this nutritious produce for free. Southeast Vermont Community Action has 164 coupon books, worth $30 each, to distribute to low-income households, about 60 percent of which are designated for seniors (age 60 and up).
At the start of the summer, it was not certain the state would make the coupon books available this year, and although SEVCA eventually received an allocation, there was a significant reduction in the number of coupon books provided — about 32 percent fewer than last year.
SEVCA is now distributing coupon books to eligible households on a first-come, first-served basis. To qualify, a household's income must be no more than 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, currently $2,457 per month for a family of two, or $3,739 per month for a family of four.
Interested households should phone SEVCA at 800-464-9951 to find out if they qualify. Unfortunately, walk-ins cannot be accommodated. There are a limited number of coupon books available, so interested families and individuals are urged to contact SEVCA as soon as possible to apply for a coupon book. Coupons must be redeemed by Oct. 31.
SEVCA's Family Services staff can also help area residents apply for 3SquaresVT benefits (i.e. food stamps), which are accepted at over 40 farmers markets across the state. As an added benefit, by using an EBT card at a participating farmers' market, households may receive up to $10 in "Crop Cash" coupons to be used at the market ($1 in "Crop Cash" for every $1 in 3SquaresVT benefit redeemed). Participating farmers' markets have an EBT booth to assist shoppers with 3SquaresVT; shoppers need to check with the market manager at this booth to ensure "Crop Cash" is available. For a list of participating markets, visit www.vermontfoodhelp.com.
Assistance with 3SquaresVT applications is part of SEVCA's multi-pronged strategy to combat poverty in Southeastern Vermont. Last year, SEVCA served over 10,000 people in Windham and Windsor counties through a range of programs such as Crisis Fuel Assistance, homelessness prevention, Weatherization, home repair, business start-up and support, job readiness and skills training, Financial Fitness, asset building, Head Start, access to affordable health care, budgeting and savings, and information and referral, and free clothing and household goods through SEVCA's thrift stores.