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Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia expanding its ‘food bucks’ program

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WATCH ABOVE: NS Famers Market "Food Bucks" program expanding – Jul 4, 2021

The Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia “food bucks” is growing with a major investment coming in from the province’s Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage.

Nova Scotia is investing $350,000 in the Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program to assist low-income Nova Scotia households to purchase fresh, healthy and locally produced food.

Read more: New research shows food insecurity especially high for north-end Halifax residents

“We are beyond thrilled by this funding announcement,” said Justin Cantafio, executive director of the Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS).

“Growing this program will allow us to build on the incredible success we have already achieved. Through this program, we are promoting community inclusion, stimulating our local economy and providing healthy, local food to those who need it most. It is a win-win-win opportunity.”

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FMNS has now expanded its “food bucks” program to 25 farmers’ markets across the province, that’s up from 13 participating markets last year.

“We’re keeping the money in the community and helping grow the economy and helping farmers grow their business,” said Cath Morley, Neighbourhood Goods coordinator at the Halifax Brewery Market.

“At the same time it’s helping families who are struggling food-wise.”

FMNS works with community organizations that identify families in need to distribute the food dollars and will support more than 400 households this season.

“It’s a common currency used here so when anybody spends that currency at a farmer’s stand or vendors stand, there’s no way of telling who that person is, or whether they are accessing that money through the program or not,” said Morley.

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The program is not only helping households but it’s also a boost to the market economy and helps farmers and vendors as well.

“It gives people more incentive to come to the farmers market and spend the dollars here and get fresh food and then the farmers can sell more,” said Emily teBogt, who runs teBogt’s Produce & Meat.

“Just bringing more people to the farmers market is great.”

Getting more people to the market is one thing, but the extra level of support from the government goes a long way to help the farming industry.

“Anything they can do to promote, support and sustain farmers’ markets is a really good thing,” said Owen Roberts, a farmer and owner of Four Seasons Farm. “For them to be doing this, it’s not only feeding people healthier foods but its supporting farmers and supporting jobs in our province.”

Read more: ‘Totally psyched’: Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market moving to new venue next weekend

FMNS says it is actively expanding its fundraising efforts to continue growing the “food bucks” program and says the support is more important now than ever, because of the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Supporting community organizations in their efforts to increase food security is not only a responsibility but a priority for this government,” said Premier Iain Rankin.

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“The Farmers’ Market of Nova Scotia has been a leader in creating initiatives to improve food literacy in our communities. It is critical for everyone to have access to good nutrition and healthy eating choices.”

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