Expansion of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program

 Photo Credit: Unsplash User  Erol Ahmed

Photo Credit: Unsplash User Erol Ahmed

The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program began in 2007 as a pilot project in each of the five health regions of BC, and began receiving funding from the BC Ministry of Health in 2012. The program has grown substantially, and now serves 57 communities, with an expected reach of 3900 househods in 2018.

The BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program is delivered by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets, and runs from June 11 to Oct. 31, 2018, at participating farmers’ markets. 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.

Earlier this spring, Health Minister, Adrian Dix, and Agriculture Minister, Lana Popham, announced a funding increase of three-quarters of a million dollars to expand the BC Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program, commencing this year, with the summer 2018 market season.

The total amount of the coupon has been increased from $240 per participant household, to $336, provided in weekly coupons for four months. The number of expectant mothers participating in the program is also planned to increase by 450 by March 2020.

Wylie Bystedt, president of BC Association of Farmers’ Markets and Cariboo rancher, noting his pleasure at the increase in provision, commented, “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 decision to increase nutrition funding for families through the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, came as a result of a public consultation, in which thousands of people participated, where participants in the consultation 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

News & UpdatesStephanie Wong