More seniors, pregnant women and families will be able to access free food from Prince George’s two farmers’ markets, thanks to a $12 million announcement by the provincial government on Sunday.
The province announced the funding for the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, including $3 million to include roughly 1,750 additional seniors’ households across the province this year. The program is expected to benefit 8,824 B.C. households – roughly 24,656 individuals – this year, up from 6,684 households and 19,029 people last year.
Both the Prince George Farmers’ Market and Wilson Square Community Market participate in the program, which provides coupons for $27 of local produce, meat, fish, eggs, dairy and other food. The program starts this week and runs for 16 weeks.
"Farmers' markets support better nutrition, as well as local entrepreneurs and growers throughout B.C.," Wylie Bystedt, president of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets, said in a statement issued on Sunday. "The Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon program is a great way to help people get home-grown, world-class B.C. produce while developing a strong, sustainable agricultural sector that is proud to serve our local communities. We are grateful for the Ministry of Health's continued investment in building healthy communities across the province. Through their investment, we see communities having success in healthy initiatives and flourishing farmers' markets."
The value of the coupons this year is up by $6 per week from 2021.
In Prince George, the program is administered via community partners including Carrier Sekani Family Services, Elizabeth Fry Society, Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, Prince George Native Friendship Centre, Elizabeth Fry Housing Society and Kikino Metis Children and Family Service Society.
"This important program is helping more British Columbians access the fresh, healthy products that are grown and produced right in their own backyards and sold at our wonderful farmers' markets," Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a statement issued on Sunday. "By supporting increased participation in the program for those who need it most, we are helping more people become food secure while also strengthening our provincial food system and local food economies."