TAYLOR COUNTY— As part of West Virginia Governor Jim Justice’s WV Strong initiative a summer feeding program, designed for senior residents, has been instituted across all 55 of the state’s counties to assist those in need, as a response to COVID-19.
Through the WV Strong Summer Food Assistance Program, vouchers, which are distributed to local senior centers by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP), may 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,” expressed Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “How we beat this pandemic is through good health and nutrition, especially for our senior citizens.”
Additional organizations that are also participating statewide include senior centers, food pantries and schools. Locally, the Taylor County Senior Citizens Center has opted to take part in the program as their way of supporting their own community.
According to Taylor County Senior Citizens Center Executive Director, Elissa Stewart, there are income guidelines in order to be eligible for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program coupons.
The income guidelines are based on the number of individuals living in the household. For a one person household an annual income of $23,606 must not be exceeded, while a two person household must fall under $31, 894 annually to qualify.
Furthermore, households containing three are limited to a $40,182 annual income and those with four need to fall under $48,470 in order to receive the assistance.
In addition to the income guidelines, the program is only open to those age 60 and older who have not signed up to receive vouchers anywhere else in 2020.
Vouchers are available at the senior center Monday-Thursday from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m., however, those wishing to receive the vouchers are asked to call ahead to get the proper paperwork filled out.
“During this pandemic, we are not doing any face to face appointments. All the information will be collected over the phone, and vouchers will be brought out to the side of the building to your car,” Stewart shared.
They are also asking that upon arrival to pick up the vouchers, participants bring their own pens to sign the completed application.
Stewart noted, that if necessary a proxy may call in to complete the application for the qualifying senior, but they must have the required information in writing from the senior.
In conjunction to the vouchers, the Taylor County Senior Citizens Center is also providing meal boxes to those over the age of 60, or to any grandchild under the age of 18 that resides fulltime with a grandparent that is 60 years of age or older.
The boxes have been provided by a government recommended supplier and are filled with nonperishable goods.
“Although the boxes aren’t anything fancy, something is better than nothing. We really want to urge people that are eligible to take advantage of this opportunity. We are happy to be of an assistance, but we need more people that are willing to take part,” voiced Stewart.
Meal box pickups are offered every Tuesday, from now through the month of August, from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., at the Taylor County Senior Citizens Center, which is located at 52 Trap Springs Road, Grafton.
Those wishing to take advantage of this opportunity should call 304-265-4555 to reserve their box. Anyone with questions or wishing to obtain additional information may also do so by calling the aforementioned phone number.