BC Farmers Are Changing People's Lives
By Peter LeBlanc, FMNCP Program Manager
As markets across the province are at their peak, the first year of BCAFM's Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program is in full swing.
Over 1000 low-income families with young children, pregnant women and seniors have been purchasing local fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and cheese from BC farmers all across the province with weekly nutrition coupons.
There is immense satisfaction about the program from all sides. Farmers and market managers are expressing that the market environment has become more inclusive and that new shoppers are attending. They appreciate providing healthy local food to those that otherwise might not be able to afford it.
For many of the participants, shopping at the market is a new experience. However, with the supports they get at the market and from their community group, their market experience is described as enjoyable and crucially important in providing them with fresh nutritious food.
Here is some feedback from Program Participants:
“One pregnant client mentioned [she] was able to get the dark leafy greens that the nutritionist had recommended [which were] sometimes hard to find at the grocery store. [Another] mentioned [she] would use this week's coupons to buy fruit and vegetables for her child's birthday party.”
“One senior [in the] program has cancer. He came in crying after using his [coupons the] first week. Having access to additional fresh produce helps him feel so much better (he needs it for optimal health). He is very grateful for the program.”
“We had a wonderful crowd of people of different ages and backgrounds participating in the pressure canning workshop. [They now] feel much less intimidated about pressure canning and are looking forward to future workshops about pressure-canning convenience foods.”
“A [participant] commented on how she doesn't normally buy fruit for her teenage kids. She finds it too expensive and thought her kids would rather eat food from a package. We are happy to report that after visiting the market and buying fruit, her kids are loving it and eating it all up!”
Funding for the BC Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon Program is provided by Healthy Families BC, an initiative of the Province of British Columbia.
Photo (below) - Sechelt Farmers' Market. Left to right: Jon Bell, Sechelt farmer and BCAFM President, Peter Leblanc, FMNCP Manager, Walter Webster, Sechelt President. Front: Roberta Wright, Sechelt Market Manager. Back row: Alain Berjerone, Sechelt Treasurer.