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story.lead_photo.caption Pat Hayes, of SEAL Plants and Produce, rearranges the tomatoes he has left Friday during the Cole County Farmers' Market at Capital Mall. The Cole County Farmers Market takes place from 4-6 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday, and 2-4 p.m. Saturdays. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

Qualifying seniors may receive up to $50 in vouchers to purchase fresh produce at farmers markets in Cole County through a state and U.S. Department of Agriculture program.

The Missouri Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program assists low-income seniors to obtain fresh Missouri-grown produce and generates more than $200,000 for farmers markets. More than 4,100 Missouri households are expected to participate.

Capital City Farmers Market, 8:30-11:30 a.m. Saturdays in the Orscheln Farm and Home parking lot, 2304 Missouri Blvd., and Cole County Farmers Market, 4-6 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, and 2-4 p.m. Saturdays in the Capital Mall parking lot, 3600 Country Club Drive, both have vendors who will honor the vouchers, said Marissa Peterson, director of community operations and services with Aging Best.

In the past, seniors were asked to apply for the vouchers in person. They were asked to bring in identifying documents, such as a driver's license, birth certificate or passport. They also had to show residency with an item, such as a utility bill.

But, with COVID-19, the process has changed, Peterson said.

To apply for the vouchers, call 1-800-369-5211.

"They would talk to us, and we would walk through the program eligibility guidelines," Peterson said. "Now, we are trying to meet somewhere, (like a senior center). We can verify at the site with the person."

To avoid too much contact, seniors are also encouraged to designate a proxy to apply for the vouchers and purchase eligible foods at markets on their behalf, according to a Missouri Department of Agriculture news release. The senior and proxy must sign the program application to receive the vouchers.

A total of up to 10 $5-vouchers may be issued to each qualifying Missouri household.

More than 175 Missouri farmers are participating in the program.

"Two farmers are highlighted for the program in the Capital City Farmers Market — Duncan Family Farms and Schwede Farm," Peterson said. "The mall has eight different farmers participating in this."

Schwede participates at the mall, as do Anderson Produce, Boys Farm Chamois, Home-n-Grown Gardens, SEAL Plants and Produce, Peach Tree Farm, Porter Produce and Thoenen Produce.

When seniors are at the markets, Peterson said, they should look for signs at the vendors saying they "gladly accept vouchers."

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