THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - There is no better time than the summer to get fresh, locally grown food at a farmers' market.
Today, Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick announced $1 million towards the successful Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon program, which helps lower- income families, seniors and pregnant women continue to have easier access to healthy foods.
"Making healthy food choices goes a long way to increasing quality of life and avoiding chronic illness," Health Minister Terry Lake said. "The Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon program makes it easier for those who need help to access and afford fresh foods, and supports them in making nutritious choices that contribute to a stronger, healthier British Columbia."
Each week, program participants receive $15 worth of coupons that can be used at one of the 63 participating markets throughout British Columbia. The coupons are used like cash to purchase locally grown fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and herbs.
Along with the coupons, participants are able to access free nutrition and skills-building programs that teach them how to use these foods in their everyday diet. These programs are offered by the community agencies who partner with each participating market.
"British Columbia can be very proud of the world class produce we grow and farmers' markets are a great way for producers to share their high quality product with their communities," Letnick said. "The Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon program is a great way to help people get home grown B.C. produce while developing a strong, sustainable agricultural sector."
The program is expected to support an estimated 10,000 people in 2016. Including this $1 million in funding, the Province has made $5.75 million available to support this program since 2012.
"Farmers' markets working together with community partners are seeing fantastic results as they provide B.C. families and seniors with fresh nutritious food," Wylie Bystedt said, president, BC Association of Farmers' Markets. "Across B.C., families, seniors, farmers, farmers' markets and communities benefit when fresh nutritious food, healthy social interactions and food knowledge and skills intersect. We are grateful for the Ministry of Health's continued investment in building healthy communities across the province. Through their investment, we see communities having success in healthy initiatives and flourishing farmers' markets."
The Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon program runs for 16 weeks, from June through October 2016, and is administered by the BC Association of Farmers' Markets.
The BC Association of Farmers' Markets is a provincially registered, non- profit association that represents farmers' markets throughout the province. At member markets, the focus is on selling locally grown or processed farm-fresh foods and vendors must either make, bake or grow the products they sell. The BC Association of Farmers' Markets accepts joint applications from farmers' markets and community agencies on a yearly basis for the Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon program.
The coupon program is one of the many supports available to British Columbians to help them adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This program supports government's Healthy Families BC health promotion strategy. The strategy helps British Columbians maintain their health and wellness through programs aimed at decreasing tobacco use, increasing opportunities for physical activity, supporting healthy eating and promoting healthy weights.
For more information on Healthy Families BC, visit their website.
To access the list of farmers' markets participating in the coupon program click here.