The result of the soil’s potential and the goodness of the family farm find intersection in the Farm to Family Program. As famers bring produce to sell at farmers’ markets, the Farm to Family Coupon Program brings fresh fruits and vegetables to low-income Vermonters. One Middlebury resident said, “I rarely go to the farmers’ market because I do not have the extra money to spend on fresh fruits and vegetables. But with the $30 in coupons and being able to use the EBT card. I will now go down more often. I especially loved the zucchini and green beans I purchased.”
About one in four families are eligible for the Farm to Family program. To be eligible you must be in enrolled in the WIC (Women Infant and Children) program or have a household income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. The limits for the 2013 farmers’ market season are $1,771 a month for a single person, $2,391 for a couple, or $3,630 for a family of four. Some of the coupons are reserved for income-eligible households that include seniors aged 60 or older, according to Mary Carlson, coordinator of Vermont’s Food and Nutrition Program.
WIC participants receive the booklet from the Department of Health. All others should come to the Addison County Community Action office at 700 Exchange St. in Middlebury. There are 10 coupons worth $3 a piece in each booklet to purchase fresh fruits or vegetables at the local farmers’ markets.
“We begin getting calls about the coupons starting mid-May,” said Karen Haury, director of the Addison Community Action Office. “This program provides good revenue for farmers and fresh nutritious food for those we serve. Farm to Family options expand food variety for the families we serve. Have you every tried purple carrots?”
The Farm to Family Program starts June 24. Participants need to be physically present to pick up the coupon booklets. Donna Rose, who helps administer the program, said, “The line is out the door on the first day of Farm to Family. It is an amazingly popular and positive program.” Seniors or those who are disabled and not able to come in person have the option of arranging for a proxy to pick up their coupon booklet. Donna also makes a trip to three senior citizen sites to distribute the coupons.
The Addison Community Action Office is located at 700 Exchange St. in Middlebury. Participating farmers’ markets are found in Bristol on the village green, Saturdays, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and Wednesdays 3-6 p.m.; in Vergennes at the city park, Fridays, 3-6:30 p.m.; and in Middlebury at Marble Works, Wednesdays and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
As one mom put it, “The freshly picked tomatoes and corn I purchased cannot compare to supermarket produce. Much more satisfying.”