Distributing a healthy lifestyle

Aug 24 2020

The Recorder, August 20, 2020.

This summer, Greenfield-based LifePath has distributed approximately 625 free farmers market coupon booklets to area seniors, each is worth around $25.

The coupons are a part of an annual program from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, designed to help elders get fresh, local fruits and vegetables and to help local farmers sell more produce.

On Thursday, Aug. 6, Ruby Blood, 86, a resident of Turners Falls, was standing in the coupon booklet distribution line outside the Gill/Montague Senior Center at 62 5th St. in Turners Falls. Blood loves picking up fruits and vegetables from farmers markets.

“There’s a variety of different items every week. I like my fresh vegetables,” she said.

Diane Dodds, 66, of Montague City, was also waiting for her coupon booklet. She enjoys the farmers market in Turners Falls. “The farmers market coupons are wonderful with SNAP. I’m very thankful for all assistance,” said Dodds.

In order to be eligible for the 2020 coupon booklets, you had to be at least 60 years old and earn $23,606 or less as an individual or $31,894 or less as a couple. For each additional family member, $8,288 was added to the income limit. The coupons do not expire until Oct. 31 and can be used to buy fruits, vegetables, fresh-cut herbs and honey.

It was a busy day outside the Gill/Montague Senior Center, as people were also in line to pick up organic veggies from Red Fire Farm through Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA). For $10 total, individuals who signed up for the farm shares in May receive 10 weeks of vegetables. This was week three. Katherine Truesdell, 73, of Turners Falls, has been volunteering for the program for the past four years. “Come on! A dollar per week for all this? It’s great! Before I was volunteering for it I was participating in it,” said Truesdell.

In addition, Roberta Potter, Gill Montague Council on Aging Director, was also distributing food for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts’ Brown Bag program. Roberta told Turners Falls resident Belinda Lyons, 73, about the farmers market coupons. This was her first year receiving them. “It’s a great idea, a good way to get a variety of produce,” said Lyons. Lyons has signed up for CISA farm shares for many years. “It’s the only way to be able to afford local, organic produce,” she said.

Beverly Demars, a resident of Gill (“the best town in the world”), has been volunteering as a farmers market coupon distributor for many years. Before she volunteered, she remembers bringing her parents to pick up the coupons. LifePath also helped her care for her mother. “LifePath is a great organization,” said Demars, who also served on LifePath’s Citizens Advisory Board for many years.

Elsie Gilman, a resident of Montague, was also manning the farmers market coupon distribution table. She has been volunteering for 17-18 years. “It’s great. The coupons are good for any farmers market in Massachusetts. For elders, it’s especially good because produce is so expensive,” said Gilman.

This year’s coupons have all been spoken for. Contact LifePath in the spring to be notified of distribution dates in your area. For more information about other available food resources, please contact LifePath at 413-773-5555, ext. 1230 or 978-544-2259, ext. 1230 or via email at info@lifepathma.org.

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