For the News Tribune


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Vouchers are now being distributed to all 55 counties in West Virginia.


Vouchers are distributed by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).


In Mineral County, they are available through Aging & Family Services, 875 S. Mineral St., Keyser, and may be used at the following farmers’ markets:


- Mineral County Farmers Market, Keyser Assembly of God parking lot, Tuesdays from 3-7 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon.


- Happy Farm Market, Tractor Supply parking lot, Tuesdays and Fridays from 3-6 p.m.


- Fort Ashby Farmers Market, Mineral County Fairgrounds, Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to noon.


- Piedmont Farmers Market, Back Street Playground, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon.


- Keyser High Rise, Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to noon.


- Pine Ridge Farm Stand, parking lot beside Calvary United Methodist Church, Mineral St. Keyser, Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.


- Flying W Farms, Route 50, Burlington, Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Monday through Thursday by appointment.


Vouchers can be exchanged for fresh, nutritious, unprepared, locally grown fruits, vegetables, honey and herbs from participating farmers markets, roadside stands and community supported agriculture programs.


"As we have seen strains on the food supply chain from the COVID-19 outbreak, programs like the SFMNP become even more vital to a healthy food system. I am hopeful we can continue to see the same success we have seen in years past despite the current situation," said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. "How we beat this pandemic is through good health and nutrition, especially for our senior citizens."


Eligible seniors over the age of 60 can sign up at their local senior centers. Vouchers are distributed to seniors who meet certain requirements. Sign-ups for the program will be conducted via drive-thru, mail, or by an in-home care worker. All partnering senior citizen centers should have vouchers by July 2, 2020.


"The Department works with a lot of great partners around the state to distribute these vouchers. If someone has a question or wants to check their eligibility, don’t hesitate to reach out to a local senior center or the department," Leonhardt said.


In 2019, the WVDA and its partners distributed a total of 16,200 vouchers to seniors in West Virginia. A total of 300 farmers participated in the program by accepting the vouchers. West Virginia has one of the highest redemption rates in the country at 84.3 percent. The national redemption rate is 79.48 percent.