More money for food coupons at farmers’ markets

Helps families buy fresh, nutritional food

More money from the provincial government is allowing more low-income families to use the nutrition coupon program.

The B.C. Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program gives out coupons that can be used at farmers’ markets around the province so people can buy healthy, fresh food.

This year, the province is spending an extra $121,000 on the program, in 76 cities around B.C., including Maple Ridge.

“This funding makes a difference for people in Maple Ridge who struggle to afford fresh food,” Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith said in a release.

“The additional funding from our government will not only help more people afford healthy food, but also help support our local farmers and economy.”

The province didn’t indicate how much money is being provided in Maple Ridge, nor how much of the increase will be allocated here because the extra money hasn’t yet been distributed. That depends on the capacity of local groups in each city, said a spokesman for B.C. Farmers Markets.

Community organizations provide coupons to lower-income families and seniors participating in food literacy programs.

Georgia Stanley, with the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets, said that, in 2018, Maple Ridge received $25,389 worth of coupons. Those were distributed by the Golden Ears Feast in partnership with the Family Education and Support Centre Society.

Coupons can be spent at participating farmers markets to buy vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, meat and fish. Each household enrolled in the program can get a minimum of $21 a week in coupons.

The extra $121,000 will allow another 250 households to access coupons. This is in addition to the $1.475 million the program has already received from the province for its 2019 coupon program.

Last year, the weekly coupon program helped more than 3,900 households, or about 11,000 individuals.

Haney Farmer’s Market opens for the season this Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., in Memorial Peace Park in downtown Maple Ridge.

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