Farmer’s Market expands coupon program

Fifty five individuals and families will benefit from the program this year

The Grand Forks Farmer’s Market is excited about the expansion of a coupon program that will draw more folks to the market and help out lower-income families, seniors, and others who participate in the program.

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets recently announced it was expanding the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program to help more lower income households access fresh, locally grown, healthy food.

“We are so excited about this program and what it can mean for our market,” said Tara Werner, one of the board directors of the GFFM.

With support from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, Area C and D and the City of Grand Forks, the Grand Forks Farmer’s Market has teamed up with Boundary Family Services Society and the Boundary Community Food Bank, so 55 individuals and families will benefit from the program this year.

That number is 33 more than last year, the first year of the program at the GFFM.

The Farmer’s Market opened up its outdoor season on Friday, May 3, and will run every Tuesday and Friday through the summer and fall.

Through The BCAFM Nutrition Coupon Program, community partner organizations provide coupons to lower-income families, seniors and pregnant women who participate in the food literacy programs. This is a healthy eating initiative, with the coupons spent at BCAFM member farmers markets that participate in the nutrition coupon program. (or BCFMCNP) Each week for 16 weeks, each household will receive coupons valued at $21 which they use at farmers’ markets to purchase vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy products, cut herbs, meat and fish.

This year’s summer program starts in mid-June.

Werner said the program draws people to the market who might not otherwise shop there, giving them access to local, healthy food and the farmers benefit from the customers, while the money stays in the community. She added that they expanded program will just build on last year’s success.

“You’re seeing them use these coupons, and they’re buying fresh, local stuff. They’re getting eggs that were just laid yesterday, and thoughtfully processed local meats, and a lot of fresh produce.

“And the care that I have seen the vendors take to accommodate these people – I’ve seen them give them extra peppers, or tomatoes, because they’re really excited about this. And it’s money in their pockets. The vendors turn these coupons in, and the money goes right to them.

“All of the vendors I’ve spoken with, have really put some thought into how to make this work, because it works for them too.”

The community partner organizations work with local service agencies to identify who will benefit from the program.

Linda Hynes, with Boundary Community Food Bank, is excited to be working with the GFFM.

“We’re allowed 25 participants, so we’re offering it our seniors and low income families,” she said. “We’re thrilled to be part of this program. It’s such an exciting time.”

There are over 145 farmers markets in the BCAFM, but not all are part of the coupon program. More are joining and the program has grown to serve over 4,000 households in over 65 communities in B.C.

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