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Voucher program encourages better nutrition
Clayton, Henry seniors can get fresh produce

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Senior adults in Clayton and Henry counties are being encouraged to maintain good nutrition through a state voucher program that makes fresh fruits and vegetables available at various sites on certain days.

In Clayton, the program is operated through the Clayton County Senior Services Department. The department has partnered with the Georgia Department of Human Resources and the Atlanta Regional Commission in the effort to encourage older adults to buy more fresh fruits and vegetables.

The state program is funded by a federal grant, according to Rosanna Smith, Aging and Program Manager for the Clayton County Aging Program.

The grant allows the state to provide seniors, who qualify, with $20 worth of vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.

The produce must be purchased from Georgia farmers registered with the state.

The state has contracted with the farmers to come to the local senior centers to allow seniors to purchase the produce with the vouchers, according to Smith. The farmers are then reimbursed by the state.

"I just can't say enough. The seniors really appreciate it," said Smith.

Thursday, the Shelnutt Intergenerational Center, located at 849 Battle Creek Road, Jonesboro, hosted a farmers market event for seniors.

"It benefits me a lot," said Joann Raines, 61, of Hampton. "I don't have the money, sometimes, to buy fresh things, so this is a blessing. I'm thankful," said Raines.

A farmers market event was also held at the J. Charley Griswell Senior Center, located at 2300 Highway 138 East, Jonesboro, on Tuesday. More than 350 seniors shopped at the Shelnutt and Griswell centers through the program this week, according to Smith.

The voucher program is semi-annual. Another event will take place in late August, according to Smith. For more information, contact the Clayton County Aging Program at 770-603-4050.

In Henry County, seniors may also take advantage of the program at the Heritage Senior Center, located at 1050 Florence McGarity Boulevard, McDonough, and the Hidden Valley Senior Center, 600 Spraggins Memorial Parkway, in Stockbridge. For more information on the Henry County program, contact Health and Wellness Coordinator Jennifer Phelps, at (770) 288-7001.