COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — A food assistance program that helps low-income senior citizens in South Carolina buy produce from local farmers returns next month, and eligible participants will see their benefits doubled.

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, which begins June 1, is designed to supplement the diets of low-income seniors with fresh, nutritious produce while also supporting farmers in the state.

The seasonal U.S. Department of Agriculture grant program, administered by the state Department of Social Services, allows qualifying seniors to buy 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 $10 vouchers to spend at participating 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,” said Connelly-Anne Ragley, communications and external affairs director with DSS. “That’s how the state is judged. 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 home county,need to complete an application and present photo identification. If approved, the qualified senior will receive their checks the same day, officials said.

Applications will be accepted and checks will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Participants must be 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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