BC funds farmers’ markets coupons for lower-income households
By Government of British Columbia
By Government of British Columbia
To help more lower-income British Columbians, people expecting children and seniors gain access to healthy, locally grown food, the province of BC has provided approximately $1.88 million in funding to the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.
The funds were provided to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) to support the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program throughout the province. The program provides coupons for lower-income households to purchase fresh, healthy, local food at B.C. farmers markets.
“Our government continues to support families and local farmers and producers as the demand for food programs has increased during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “This coupon program helps improve the health and well-being of British Columbians and builds a sense of community by encouraging people to buy nutritious B.C.-grown food from local farmers and producers. “Over this year, an additional 600 households, or approximately 1,800 individuals, will benefit from the weekly coupon program during the farmers market season.”
In total, the coupon program is expected to benefit over 6,000 households and reach approximately 18,000 individuals in 2020. This is a 300% increase from when the program started in 2012.
“Partnering with the BCAFM on this program promotes healthy eating and helps more people around the province share the amazing community atmosphere and fresh local products at farmers markets,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “Increasing the customer base and involvement at the markets also supports farmers, producers and processers, each of whom are part of B.C.’s growing agricultural industry and food security. This program truly benefits everyone involved.”
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program is a healthy-eating initiative that supports farmers markets and strengthens food security throughout British Columbia. This year, the coupon program will run from June 8 to Nov. 15, 2020, at participating farmers markets in approximately 79 B.C. communities. Families and individuals will be able to use the coupons to make online purchases at 64 farmers markets.
“The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program has been a powerful food security tool over the years,” said Vickey Brown, president, BCAFM. “This year, the impacts of this program will be even more important. Both farmers and consumers are struggling through COVID-19 pandemic disruptions. Weekly access to healthy food via farmers markets will be a big help in getting healthy local food to the vulnerable folks in our communities. Farmers who are suffering the impacts of market disruptions because of COVID-19 will benefit from the reliable income that the nutrition coupons provide. We are always grateful to the ministries for their support of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, and that appreciation has grown during this challenging time.”
The program is run by community organizations provincewide. Eligible recipients receive $21 worth of coupons per week for 16 weeks to help them purchase local food, including vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, meat and fish.
Guided by the provincial health officer, farmers markets are continuing to operate in B.C. using physical distancing, including cashless payment options and enhanced food handling and hygiene measures. BCAFM is also helping provide consumers with locally grown and prepared food products through a new online platform, with many farmers markets connected virtually to serve their communities.
The coupon program is available to all farmers markets in B.C. that are current members of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets and meet certain criteria. The BCAFM is a provincially registered, non-profit society that represents over 145 farmers markets throughout the province. At member markets, the focus is on selling fresh, B.C.-grown or prepared foods and vendors must make, bake or grow the products they sell.