The Alabama Farmers Market Authority is requiring seniors to go online to register for its Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
FMA Director Don Wambles said the change was made to make the application process easier for seniors. Despite the fact many seniors don't have computers or access to the Internet, the online application is the only way to register for the nutrition program.
"We know that some will say that the seniors we are trying to reach do not have or use computers, and we understand that," Wambles said. "Nevertheless, we believe that there are enough people who have computers who want to assist the elderly in our communities and will be glad to assist them with this online application."
DeKalb County Council on Aging Director June Brewer wanted to get word out to seniors about the change in the application process and to assure them help registration help is available.
"Seniors can come by the Senior Center in Fort Payne, and we will assist them with registering while they are here," Brewer said. "Or they can stop by any nutrition center in DeKalb County for assistance in registering. All the centers are open from 8 a.m. until noon every day."
Brewer said there is no deadline for signing up for the program, but urged seniors to get registered as quickly as possible. Applications will be funded on a first come, first serve basis. The FMA will fund 59,000 vouchers this year.
"We're trying to make sure as many DeKalb seniors sign up as possible," Brewer said. "It's a very popular program that gives seniors a chance to get fresh produce. A lot of them are not able to get out and garden, so we take them at least once to the farmers market."
Brewer said seniors who qualify for the program would receive a book along with their stamps that tells them where they can use their vouchers. Brewer said the main farmers market was at the VFW fairgrounds. Other markets are in the area but don't operate on a consistent basis, she said.
To qualify for the program, monthly income must not exceed certain levels. For a household of one, the income limit is $18,411; for a household of two, the limit is $24,7690; for three, the limit is $31,127 and for four, the limit is $37,485.
Seniors with computers and Internet access can visit buylocalalabama.com to sign up for the SFMNP. On the FMA home page, click on the link for the SFMNP application. Fill out the form completely and click on the submit button at the bottom of the page.
Wambles said completing the application does not guarantee receipt of SFMNP benefits.