COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – A food assistance program that helps low-income seniors in South Carolina purchase produce from local farmers returns next month. This year, eligible participants will see their benefits doubled.

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) begins June 1. Officials say SFMNP is designed to help supplement the diets of low-income seniors with fresh, nutritious produce while supporting South Carolina’s local farmers.

The seasonal U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program, administered by the state Department of Social Services in South Carolina, allows qualifying seniors to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from authorized farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture programs.

This summer, eligible participants will receive $50 in the form of five checks ($10 each) to spend at participating authorized locations through September. Last year, seniors eligible for the program received $25 in vouchers.

“We encourage senior citizens to redeem those vouchers if you’re approved and receive them. That’s how the state is judged,” explained Connelly-Anne Ragley, communications & external affairs director with DSS. “If we want to continue to receive a higher amount, we need to make sure they are redeeming those vouchers.”

To apply, seniors will need to visit a designated location in their county of residence, complete an application, and present photo identification to participate. If approved, the qualified senior will receive their checks the same day, officials said.

The program is available to seniors in all 46 counties.

Applications will be accepted and checks will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis in the senior’s county of residence.

To qualify, South Carolina residents must be age 60 or older with a yearly income of $25,142 or less ($33,874 for 2 people), report their household size (jointly or separately), and have a legal form of identification.

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