Locals speak up about new farmers market program funding
British Columbians will benefit from a new round of farmers market program funding. The B.C. Farmers Market Association will get approximately $12 million to support the coupon program. This program provides coupons to vulnerable groups to purchase fresh, healthy and local food from B.C. farmers markets.
“Being able to know that we have funding for three years is huge for us, not only as an organization but for our community partners to be able to plan for this level of funding for the next three years,” said BCAFM Board Chair Wylie Bystedt.
This year, eligible recipients will receive $27 dollars of coupons per week for 16 weeks to help them purchase local food, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, vegetable and fruit plants, meat and fish. This is a $6 increase from the $21 dollars per week in 2021.
Owner and Farm Manager, Cameron Bell, of Farmer Cam’s Foods is delighted to be a part of this program and see vulnerable groups benefit from its offerings.
“The coupons often go to pregnant women, families with young children, low-income families or seniors. We see those people here at the market redeeming those coupons, getting fresh produce, and we'll see them throughout the summer. Sometimes we'll even see them in following years after they've had a chance to try local produce because they’ve made a connection with a producer, and they continue coming back, which is exactly what we want.”
The program doesn't just aim to feed hungry mouths, on top of that, it is designed to benefit farmers and community members financially.
“The coupon program helps farmers to get more revenue,” added Bell. “It also helps local residents that need access to healthy food decrease the cost of their shopping bill. And so it really helps connect those consumers and those producers in a way that makes it more affordable.”
Terrace Farmers Market Director Norm Franks says that this new funding will create a difference for those in the Northwest who struggle to make ends meet.
“It is expensive to bring produce to Terrace and we're hoping through the new farmer's market funding, we can get some decent food to people that are struggling with their finances.”
Of the funding, $3 million will be used to support approximately 1,750 additional seniors' households joining the program. The BCAFM will work with community partners to invite more seniors to participate as well as invite new organizations that serve seniors into the program.
In 2022, the coupon program will run from June 4 until Dec. 18 at participating markets in approximately 92 B.C. communities.