Still time to soak in sun, sights of county

August is such a wonderful time in Chautauqua County. So much to see and do. Hopefully, you are taking advantage of all the outdoor activities including music, festivals, Chautauqua Institution, National Comedy Center, or just enjoying the numerous parks, trails, and lakes. When I am looking for an activity on any particular day, I visit the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau at www.tourchautauqua.com for a full list of activities and events.

I also love August for the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that it brings to our table. I love to garden but I also take advantage of all the farms in our community. On almost every road you travel through Chautauqua County, you can find produce stands with fresh fruits and vegetables grown right here. You can’t get any fresher than that! In big cities, people pay a lot of money for farm to table foods. We can literally step out our door to find them. In addition to individual farm stands, there are many Farmer’s Markets throughout Chautauqua County that set up weekly during the growing season. These bring together many different farms as well as local artists and other locally made products, like honey and maple syrup. You can find a list of farmer’s market locations on the Visitors Bureau website listed above or contact the OFAS NY Connects helpline at (716) 753-4582.

We all know that a healthy diet includes lots of fresh fruits and vegetables but often these can be more costly than other foods. Help is available. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This is a federal program to ensure that people under a certain income level have access to healthy nutritious foods. Many people do not realize that SNAP can be used at many farm stands and Farmer’s Markets, as well as to donate to the OFAS Home Delivered Meal Program, Dining-Out Restaurant Program, or to buy groceries at the supermarket. There are some additional benefits when you use SNAP at farmer’s markets. Many Farmer’s Markets will DOUBLE your SNAP dollars so you can buy more produce. This is great for you and our local farmers! For example, if you are eligible for $20/month in SNAP, you can actually get $40 of produce when used at the Farmers Market. (Please check with your SNAP worker or the market on how to double up your SNAP).

Many older adults in our county are eligible for SNAP but are hesitant to apply even though they may be struggling to pay the rent or monthly bills. Your taxes pay for the SNAP program just like it pays for services though OFAS, the difference is that every person who is eligible for SNAP gets it. SNAP uses different eligibility criteria for older adults or people with disabilities since nutrition is so important to keeping people healthy. An older adult can be eligible for SNAP even with an income range of $2,147.00 to $4,417.00/month depending on how many people live with you and your monthly expenses. When you receive SNAP you are also automatically enrolled in HEAP that helps to pay your heating bills without doing another application. SNAP is so easy to use. It comes on a preloaded debit card used at stores or farmer’s markets just like any other bankcard.

If you are thinking about SNAP, there is also assistance to help you apply. OFAS is happy to announce that Brooke Barone has returned to help Chautauqua County residents apply and recertify for SNAP. Brooke is the Nutrition Education and Outreach Program coordinator through FeedMore of WNY and she previously held this same position through Catt County Community Action. Brooke is available to help enroll individuals or to speak with groups about SNAP and all its benefits. She will also be working with OFAS nutrition services and our Eat Healthy Be Active SNAP education program. Eat Healthy Be Active is a dietician-led 8 week program that teaches people how to eat healthy on a budget. For more information on SNAP, assistance to apply, or to sign-up for Eat Healthy Be Active, contact our NYConnects helpline at 753-4582. Happy Summer!

Mary Ann Spanos is Chautauqua County Office for the Aging Director.


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