York County veterans who stop by Sanford Farmer’s Market on Saturdays in September can receive a $20 voucher each week during the month for use at the market, starting Sept. 7. Sanford Farmer’s Market, shown here in this file photo from a few years ago, operates 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays in Central Park located in the downtown. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SANFORD – Veterans from across York County are being thanked for their service in a tangible way this September, in the form of weekly gift vouchers for use at the Sanford Farmer’s Market.

Vouchers for Veterans kicks off at the Sanford market on Saturday Sept. 7. Each Saturday throughout September, York County veterans can receive a free voucher for $20 in merchandise from the Sanford market, held 8 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, rain or shine, located in Central Park, which is across Main Street from Sanford City Hall in the city’s downtown.

“By connecting veterans with farmers at local markets, veterans have an opportunity to select fresh, nutritious, organic, healthy foods directly from a local source,” said Sanford Farmer’s Market Manager Marybeth Stocking. She said the vouchers are available to veterans every Saturday in September – offering four opportunities for fresh, local food.

To obtain a voucher, veterans may bring a DD-214, an active duty card, medical picture ID from Veterans Affairs, a current Maine driver’s license with the “Veteran” designation or a  U.S. Military retirement card, as well as proof of York County residency, to the market.

Vouchers for Veterans Coordinator Jeanne Glover said the program is available to those who served and are currently serving – anyone eligible for a DD214. Veterans must be present in person to receive the voucher, she said.

Jim Bachelder, commander of Sanford VFW 9935 and a longtime veterans advocate, said he believes the program is a good one.

“It’s not a need program, it is a ‘thank you’ program,” said Bachelder, who said veterans organizations are doing what they can to get the word out to their membership.

“We support it, and I will take the opportunity to get my vouchers,” said Bachelder.

The Vouchers for Veterans program has been operating since 2016 at the Rochester, New Hampshire, Farmers’ Market before expanding to two other New Hampshire counties and to York County this year. Grover said the program has been used more 1,800 times by Strafford County, New Hampshire veterans.

Stocking, who together with Jordan Pike operates Two Toad Farm in Lebanon, said the program benefits both the nation’s military veterans and farmers – showing appreciation while providing an economic boost to local growers at the same time.

“The program operates only in September for a few different reasons,” she said. “September is a month the farmers have an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits for sale, and Maine, being a tourist destination, means that many of the regular market customers have left the state after their summer vacations, as their children return to school. By offering vouchers in September, the market stays vibrant, the veterans choose from a huge variety and the money stays in the community. Everybody wins.”

The Vouchers for Veterans program is supported through fundraisers and donations and Stocking said she and others who support the program are already looking to fund vouchers for 2020. Donations may be made at the market or at: https://vouchersforveterans.org.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 780-9016 or [email protected]

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