A Delaware County service agency again this summer is extending food vouchers to assist its senior citizen client base, as well as area farmers.

A Delaware County service agency again this summer is extending food vouchers to assist its senior citizen client base, as well as area farmers.

For the third consecutive summer, the nonprofit Delaware County Council for Older Adults is providing vouchers to senior citizens with low to moderate incomes.

The Senior Farmers Market Voucher Program kicked off last Monday and will be extended through October. Through it, Delaware County senior citizens can receive up to $80 in vouchers to purchase locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and food-producing plants at farmers markets held weekly in Delaware, Sunbury and Powell.

"We were just very aware that many older adults are on limited budgets," said Donna Meyer, COA outreach manager. "We want to lessen that burden, and we wanted to provide them with nutritious foods."

Delaware County residents who are 60 or older can receive the vouchers by visiting the COA's new Center for Older Adults, 800 Cheshire Road. To qualify, they also must have an individual income at or below $20,808, or $28,008 for couples.

Anyone unable to pick up or shop with the vouchers may name up to two representatives to do so.

Vouchers also are available at four farmers markets held in Delaware County. Main Street Delaware Inc. hosts markets in downtown Delaware from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each Saturday, and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Other participating farmers markets include: the Delaware County Fairgrounds farmers market held at the fairgrounds each Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon; the Big Walnut Chamber of Commerce-sponsored market on the Sunbury Square, held from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays; and a market held on West Olentangy Street in Powell each Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m.

"People can use the vouchers for fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods, such as baked goods, honeys or plants that produce foods," Meyer said. "Our program is less restrictive than some offered through state and federal grants.

"It really is a great service. It helps local seniors, and it increases sales for vendors. In most cases, they're local farmers."

Funding for the program comes from the COA's five-year senior services levy. That levy is set to expire this year, and the COA on Aug. 5 will ask county voters to approve a renewal of its current 0.7-mill senior services levy, as well as a 0.2-mill increase COA officials say is necessary to serve its growing list of clients. If approved, the total 0.9-mill levy would represent the first funding increase for the COA since 1998, when voters approved increasing its senior services levy from 0.5 mill to 0.7 mill.

"Last year, we passed out over $40,000 in vouchers," Meyer said. Seniors "get up to 40 vouchers every season, and each is worth $2.

"Some people hang onto them all season, and some use them all at once," she said.

Additional information about the voucher program is available by calling the COA, at (740) 363-6677.