Starting in 2013, the Cowichan Green Community (CGC) had the opportunity to team-up with the City Square Market Society to administer the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program in the Cowichan Valley. An initiative of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets and funded by Healthy Families BC, the program seeks to provide low-income families and seniors with coupons to spend at their local farmers’ market.
In 2014 and 2015, the program ran from June to October and operated in 47 communities across BC. Locally it supported 55 low income families and seniors in the Cowichan Region to gain free access to fresh and local food at the Duncan Farmers’ Market. In 2015, we received a private donation that allowed us to add 11 low income youth as well. Participants receive a booklet of $15 in coupons each week for 16 weeks. This year, the number of supported families and seniors has been increased to 60. Funds provided give access to local produce, eggs, nuts, herbs, dairy, fish, and meat from vendors at the market and are accompanied with weekly nutritional information and recipes on highlighted fruits or vegetables in season. They also have access to various skill and food literacy building activities offered through the market, CGC and other community partners.
The Canadian Diabetes Association also offers their Food Skills for Families, a series of 6 cooking classes for 12 participants from the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program. The classes take place in CGC’s community kitchen at The Station.
A win-win for both local producers and local families, feedback from the project participants has been overwhelmingly positive. Ted, a resident of Duncan, BC states,
“It was great to participate in the Farmers Market Coupon Program for a short while and reap the benefits of fresh local vegetable and fruit. The coupons helped me a great deal regarding how I could eat and I am sure my health benefited immensely. Hopefully other seniors will be selected.”
For further details, please contact Hilary Stead at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tony Sferrazza at 250-748-8506.