Hundreds of Philadelphia senior citizens gathered at the Reading Terminal Market today to stock up on fruits and vegetables courtesy of the government, but also got information about Pennsylvania’s voter ID law.
The yearly program was established in 1998 by the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging and distributes $20 vouchers to citizens age 60 and up to buy produce offered by certified farmers’ markets.
It hopes to promote healthy eating for senior citizens and assist older Pennsylvanians in every county in the state who may not have the financial means to purchase fresh produce.
Sue Gibson, PCA’s Nutrition Manager, said both farmers and older citizens benefit from the voucher program.
“It’s sort of a trend now to eat local and certainly nutrition has come to the forefront,” Gibson said. “As we age we sort of collect a number of chronic diseases and eating fresh produce can certainly help either prevent or manage many of those diseases.”
Clarence Butler, a local musician takes part in the voucher program said another benefit of the initiative is to encourage social and physical activity in older citizens.
“A lot of seniors really don’t get out as much,” Butler said. “The walls start to grow in on you when you get older, so you try to find things to do and I think this is great. Too bad it’s only once a year.”
Also handed out along with the vouchers were flyers with information on documents required for citizens to vote in the upcoming November election and locations of centers where citizens could obtain free photo IDs.
Clayton Walsh, a 75-year-old retiree, said he has the needed identification but does not plan to vote or take a side in the ID debate.
“I really don’t understand the controversy to be honest,” Walsh said. “I’ve never voted for anything in my life and I never will because it’s all just crap. I don’t even know what they’re talking about anymore.”
Butler said that even though the intentions behind the voter ID law seem questionable, it is not difficult to comply with and that he obtained one of the free IDs for his wife.
“There are alternatives, you just have to make adjustments,” Walsh said. “A lot of people are used to having things done for them, but this is not a democracy just by being apathetic; back when people wanted to be free they went to great lengths to be free, and if you want to vote this is not that different.”
Citizens looking for information on obtaining free voter ID are encouraged to call 800-932-4600 and ask for hours at the ID center nearest them.