The Grand Forks Farmers’ Market (GFFM) hopes to expand its Nutrition Coupon Program this spring, boosting cash-flow for local food producers while delivering food to those who need it most, according to spokesperson Doug Zorn.
For Zorn and everyone at GFFM, the program is about enhancing regional food security.
It works by giving low-income families, pregnant women and seniors $21 worth of coupons per week throughout the growing season that can be spent only on fresh, locally produced food at the Farmers’ Market at Gyro Park. The coupons’ cash value meanwhile goes to the market’s food vendors, spreading the benefits full-circle.
“Grand Forks in my opinion, is not a place where you’ll find there’s a lot of disposable income. We have a lot of retirees living here,” Zorn told The Gazette.
Food prices are mounting on the back of soaring inflation, which for Zorn, “Is why the food coupon program is so, so important this year.”
It was important enough in 2021, according to GFFM’s records.
Last year’s program put food on the table for 79 clients at the Boundary Community Food Bank, 80 per cent of whom (63) lived in Grand Forks. Coupons also went to 48 clients at Boundary Family Services, 83 per cent of whom (40) called the city home.
Food producers like Grand Forks Farms’ Valerie Rilkoff also reaped the program’s benefits.
“The coupon program over these past few years has been a big help to keep us and the (farmers’) market going,” Rilkoff wrote in a letter asking city council to support the program. Rilkoff’s summer sales have nearly doubled since GFFM signed on to the program, she wrote.
Council listened, doubling its yearly contribution from $1,500 in 2021 to $3,000 in 2022. That will help around 10 extra families this spring and summer, Zorn said.
For more information about the market, visit GFFM’s website at bcfarmersmarkettrail.com/market/grand-forks-farmers-market.