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Posted: May 4, 2019

Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program expanded

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets has expanded the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program to help more lower income households access fresh, locally-grown, healthy food, thanks to support from the province.

“Building up on last year’s historic provincial expansion of the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition program, we are further supporting the association to take another step towards helping more families access nutritious, B.C.-grown food. Over this year, another 250 households, or approximately 700 individuals, will benefit from the weekly coupon program during the farmers’ market season,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“The BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program is widely supported across the province, given its positive impact on residents and growers alike. Increasing the number of households in the program reflects its success in helping improving health outcomes and local economies.”

The province provided the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets with $750,000 last year to increase the coupon program budget. This increase contributed to helping the association raise the value of coupons by nearly $100, from $240 per participant household per season, to $336 provided in weekly coupons for four months.

The funding increase also went toward increasing the number of expectant mothers participating in the program by 450. This year, the province is providing the association additional funding of $121,000 to follow through on a plan to expand the program to another 250 households representing approximately 700 individuals. This is in addition to the $1.475 million the program has already received from the province for its 2019 coupon program. Last season, the weekly coupon program benefited more than 3,900 households, representing approximately 11,000 individuals.

“The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program is a fantastic initiative that works on multiple levels to support healthy, sustainable communities,” said Vickey Brown, president of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. “It both increases access to local, fresh food for families, seniors and pregnant women, and supports local farmers across the province. The program benefits are far reaching and it offers unique opportunities for individuals to connect with each other around food and community.”

This year, the program will run from June 11 to Nov. 3 at participating farmers’ markets in 76 communities. It provides families, pregnant women and seniors who are already connected to community agencies that offer nutrition and skills-building programs and supports, with coupons to help them buy local food, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, meat and fish.

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets is a provincially registered, non-profit society that represents more than 145 farmers’ markets throughout the province. At member markets, the focus is on selling B.C.-grown or processed farm-fresh foods. Vendors must make, bake or grow the products they sell.

Families, seniors and pregnant women can access the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program by contacting community partner agencies.

Information on partner agencies is available on the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets’ website.

The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program promotes food literacy, which helps people build their knowledge and skills around food, including healthy eating, preservation and good planning for food.

Food literacy programs are offered by community agencies throughout the province.

The program is available to all farmers’ markets in B.C. that are members of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets, and that meet certain criteria.

Farmers’ markets can visit the association’s website for more information. Applications for 2019 are currently closed.

Lead image: The Cranbrook Farmers’ Market. e-KNOW file image

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