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Vouchers for produce still available for seniors

KINGSTON — Seniors once again have an opportunity this summer to take advantage of receiving fresh produce practically for free while helping support local farmers.

The Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, through the Chuckwagon Senior Nutrition Program, kicked off July 1. This grant-funded program provides seniors with vouchers for fresh, unprocessed produce from local farmers markets.

The next chance to pick up vouchers will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 26 at the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribal Senior Center in Little Boston. The only requirements are that recipients be 60 years or older and have an income of $1,476 per month or less for one person and an income of $1,978 per month or less for two people.

Last year, members of the senior nutrition program tried promoting vouchers by working directly with the apartment managers of complexes with low-income seniors and at the community center. But Julie Pounds, director of Chuckwagon, and her staff only received one or two inquiries from their efforts.

In response, Chuckwagon officials are campaigning the program through local newspapers; holding a limited number of voucher-disbursement days; and hoping community members in need will come to them if they want the vouchers. Even so, there has been no response from the North End.

However, if the non-profit receives requests for the staff to come to a community to disburse them, they will be more than willing to do it, Pounds said.

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s elder coordinator did just that. Pound said the tribe has had ample requests in the past for the vouchers and that Chuckwagon would be happy to do the same thing for any other community that makes the same request.

The list of dates for the staff to distribute vouchers is ongoing, so a distribution date in Kingston could be added to that list, especially if the non-profit gets enough direct requests, Pound added.

“We feel we are very available,” she said.

If the organization receives a call from someone who says they can’t get out of Kingston, there is a driver who can visit with the client and assist with the paperwork, she said. There are drivers in the area twice a week. Unfortunately, Pounds noted the vouchers cannot be mailed or faxed but said the group is still exploring options on how to make vouchers more readily available.

“We’re trying, believe me,” she said.

Interested residents can call the senior nutrition program at (888) 877-8511. Seniors can also find out more by attending the Senior Chuckwagon meals, held on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the community center.

“They need to call and communicate,” Pounds said. “We’re only in the second week of distribution. We feel there is lots and lots of time to do it.”

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