The BC government has granted new funding for the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, which will help improve access to healthy, locally grown food for lower-income British Columbians.
The government says it will award $12 million to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) to support the program, which will provide coupons to those in need so they can buy fresh, healthy, local food at farmers’ markets.
Of the total funding, $3 million will be used to support approximately 1,750 additional senior households who are also participating in the program.
The BCAFM says it will work with existing community partners to invite more seniors in need to participate and to invite new organizations serving seniors to the program.
“Our government continues to support the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, which is widely supported across the province,” said Adrian Dix, Secretary of Health. “The program encourages people to buy nutritious, locally grown food, which helps improve the health and well-being of British Colombians and build a sense of community.”
By 2022, more than 8,824 households are expected to benefit from the coupon program, reaching approximately 24,656 individuals. That is more than seven times more than when the program started in 2012.
In 2019-20, the province provided $2.25 million to the program, which benefited 6,684 households and approximately 19,029 individuals.
“This important program will help more British Columbians access the fresh, healthy produce grown and produced in their own backyard and sold in our beautiful farmers markets,” said Lana Popham, Secretary of Agriculture and Food. “By supporting greater participation in the program for those who need it most, we help more people achieve food security, while also strengthening our provincial food system and local food economies.”
New for 2022, honey is now also added to the list of local foods available this year to those with coupons.
“Not only does this fantastic program help people and families access local, fresh food, but it also supports local farmers and producers in BC. It’s great to see seniors in Vancouver and the rest of the province still will have more opportunities to participate,” said David Eby, MLA for Vancouver-Point Grey.
The coupon program runs from June 4 to December 18 at participating farmers’ markets in BC.
“Farmers’ markets support better nutrition, as well as local entrepreneurs and growers across BC,” said Wylie Bystedt, president of BCAFM. “The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program is a great way to help people get world-class homegrown BC products while developing a strong, sustainable farming industry that is proud to serve our local communities. We are grateful for the Department of Health’s continued investment in building healthy communities across the province. Through their investment, we see communities succeed in healthy initiatives and thriving farmers markets.”
In 2022, eligible recipients will receive $27 dollars in coupons per week for 16 weeks to help them buy local foods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy products, spices, fruit and vegetable plants, and meat and fish .
The BCAFM helps consumers with locally grown and prepared food products through a new online platform, with many farmers’ markets virtually connected to serve their communities.
Farmers’ markets can find more information on the association’s website and applications for 2022 are still open.
More information about the program can be found online here.
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