Farmers’ market coupons cash in on nutrition

The Fort St. John Farmers’ Market is ready for the snow to melt and bring fresh food to those in need in the community.

The local market is once again looking to continue the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program, which provides lower income families, seniors, and pregnant women with coupons that allow them to purchase fresh food from their local farmers market.

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“It’s a great program for the community,” said market manager Marie Bernardin, who gave a presentation about the program to Fort St. John city council last week.

The program began in 2007 and the Ministry of Health began funding the program in 2012. Fort St. John joined the program in 2014. 

Last year, the program provided 15 local seniors with 240 booklets worth $3,600, and the Salvation Army handed out the same number to families and pregnant women in the community. Those taking part in the program get one booklet per week to take to the market.

But those coupons come with a caveat—they can only be used to purchase fresh food, such as produce, meat, eggs, fish, nuts and herbs—nothing processed.

Mayor Lori Ackerman was impressed by the program and how it helps those in need.

“It’s a wonderful program and I’m glad the ministry of health started to fund this. I didn’t know this was part of the farmers market,” she said.

Ackerman wondered if the farmers’ market could handle the demand if there were more coupon books available to those in need.

“I believe we could, we have enough vendors who are stepping up to the plate to bring vegetables and fruit,” said Bernardin.

Council agreed to send a letter of support for the program to the Ministry of Health in order to keep the program going.

The market plans to open on May 6 and run until mid-October. Last year, the membership made the decision to become an outdoor market and set up shop in Centennial Park, where it had a great experience and reaction from the community.

The market will run every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, email fsjfarmersmarket@gmail.com.

ahendry@ahnfsj.ca

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