Farmers' market program expansion to support families and producers
To help more lower income British Columbian's and expectant mothers gain access to healthy, locally grown food, government is expanding the BC Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program, Health Minster Adrian Dix and Agriculture Minister Lana Popham announced.
"Farmers' markets support better nutrition, as well as local entrepreneurs and growers throughout B.C.," said Dix. "On that note, our government is making the most significant provincial increase to the BC Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program since it was introduced, to raise the value and number of coupons provided to people."
"Many communities support this program, and we are thrilled to increase its positive impact on families and local food producers, and to promote our agriculture sector," said Popham. "Residents and municipalities all over the province are united in their praise for this program, and have been eager to see it continue and grow."
The funding provided to the BC Association of Farmers' Markets will increase by three-quarters of a million dollars, to expand the BC Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program. As a result, the total amount of the coupon will increase by nearly $100, from $240 per participant household, to $336, provided in weekly coupons for four months. The number of expectant mothers participating in the program will also increase by 450 by March 2020, and the number of participating households is expected to rise from 3,708 to over 3,900.
The BC Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program is delivered by the BC Association of Farmers' Markets, and will run from June 11 to Oct. 31, 2018, at participating farmers' markets in 57 communities. The program provides participants enrolled in the nutrition and skills-building programs, which are offered by community agencies associated with each participating market, with coupons to help them purchase local food including vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, meat and fish.
"We are excited with the Minister of Health's announcement ahead of farmers' markets reopening in many communities around B.C. this summer," said Wylie Bystedt, president of BC Association of Farmers' Markets and Cariboo rancher. "We know there are significant benefits as a result of this program, ranging from improved population health to economic activity. The program has increased and sustained the customer base for local and regional farmers, which in turn has allowed them to grow and diversify."
The BC Association of Farmers' Markets is a provincially registered, non-profit association, which represents over 145 farmers' markets throughout the province. At member markets, the focus is on selling B.C. grown or processed, farm-fresh foods, and vendors must either make, bake or grow the products they sell.
The BC Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program builds on the work government is doing to reduce poverty in British Columbia. Thousands of people participated in a comprehensive public consultation, where they discussed the challenges and shared their ideas about how to reduce poverty in British Columbia.
For more information on the BC Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program or to locate a farmers' market in your community, visit: www.bcfarmersmarket.org
For a list of farmers' markets and community partners participating in Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program in 2018, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Nutrition_Coupon_Program_Backgrounder.pdf