May 4, 2019 5:53 pm

B.C. government funding sows expansion of farmers’ market coupon program

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Vancouver-Mount Pleasant MLA Melanie Mark announce the expansion of the province's farmers' market coupon program at a market in Vancouver Saturday, May 4, 2019.

Adrian Dix/Twitter

A British Columbia farmers’ market nutrition coupon program is growing, financially and with participants.

Health Minister Adrian Dix says those eligible to take part will get more money to spend at farmers’ markets around the province, and another 700 individuals will be brought into program.

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The province is investing almost $1.6 million this year for the program that will supply weekly coupons valued at $21 for the purchase of locally grown food at farmers’ markets around the province.

Dix told a crowd at a farmers’ market in his own Vancouver riding on Saturday that they had a waiting list last year, which is one of the reasons they expanded the programs, especially to ensure pregnant women were included.

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Vickey Brown, president of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, says the initiative works on many levels, supporting families, seniors and expectant mothers, while at the same time helping local farmers across the province.

The program will run from June 11 to Nov. 3 at 76 markets across the province and totals $336 in weekly coupons.

Dix says individuals already getting support from local community organizations are often singled out for the benefit, with the emphasis on pregnant women, families and seniors.

“This is exactly what health care should be: ensuring the social determinants of health, that people have the means to get the food they need to stay healthy, to get the activity and the supports in the community, the knowledge they need to stay healthy in the communities,” said Dix.

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Heather O’Hara, executive director of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Market, says the program not only builds nutrition but expands the community.

“We bring people together of diverse backgrounds, cultural experiences, lived experiences, (and those with) socioeconomic challenges,” said O’Hara.

“It really humanizes the ability to access fresh food direct from our local British Columbia farmers.”

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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