Increasing access to locally grown food

The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program provides coupons to low-income families, seniors and pregnant women

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Little girl taking a bundle of lettuce from a farmer's market vendor.

Through its support of the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, Columbia Basin Trust is increasing access to locally grown food at farmers’ markets in the Basin Farmers’ markets, like Nelson’s Cottonwood Community Market. — Photo courtesy Adrian Wagner

Farmers’ markets are an important way of connecting Columbia Basin residents with the products of local farmers. Columbia Basin Trust is increasing access to fresh, healthy food by providing even more funding to the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program run by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM).

The Trust began supporting the existing provincial program in 2018. After a first successful year, it’s now committing more funding to the program: $420,000 over three years. This will enable the program to eliminate wait lists and add two new Basin communities. Each year the program will serve approximately 325 people through 16 farmers’ markets operating in 14 communities in the region.

“We’ve been very pleased with this program’s impacts, which is why we’ve decided to give it even longer-term support,” said Will Nixon, Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits, Columbia Basin Trust. “In addition to helping make sure that Basin residents receive the healthy food they need, this program helps us deliver on our strategic priority to foster agricultural production in the region.”

The program provides coupons to lower-income families, seniors and pregnant women participating in food literacy programs delivered by eligible community partners. Recipients receive coupons valued at $21 each week for 16 weeks. They use these at participating BCAFM member farmers’ markets to purchase vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy products, cut herbs, meat and fish directly from Basin farmers, supporting the local economy.

Farmer's Market sign, with vendor booths in background.

Through its support of the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, Columbia Basin Trust is increasing access to locally grown food at farmers’ markets in the Basin. — Photo courtesy BC Farmers' Market Trail and Anice Wong

“Columbia Basin Trust is an incredible partner of ours, supporting Basin residents, farmers and farmers’ markets, increasing access to healthy, fresh food, while boosting the local economy all at the same time,” said Heather O’Hara, Executive Director, BCAFM. “This new contribution will sustain and expand the reach of this amazing program in the region for years to come.”

This year’s program starts in June. The communities returning this year are Cranbrook, Creston, Elkford, Fernie, Kaslo, Kimberley, Nakusp, Nelson, Revelstoke, Rossland, Trail and Windermere. Joining the program this year are New Denver and Valemount. To become program participants, Basin residents should contact a local eligible community organization that partners with the program. To learn more, visit bcfarmersmarket.org/coupon-program/about-program.

The BC Association of Farmers’ Markets promotes, develops and strengthens 145+ farmers' markets across the province so they can better support local farmers, food processors and artisans, and provide British Columbians with fresh, healthy, local food. Learn more at bcfarmersmarket.org.

The Trust fosters agricultural production in the region and works to make sure residents have access to healthy food. Learn more about its efforts in agriculture, as well as in improving the economic and social well-being of residents, at ourtrust.org/our-work.

Columbia Basin Trust supports the ideas and efforts of the people in the Columbia Basin. To learn more about the Trust’s programs and initiatives, and how it helps deliver social, economic and environmental benefits to the Basin, visit ourtrust.org or call 1-800-505-8998.

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