A win for Gabriola families and farmers

Eric Veale

On behalf of Gabriola Agricultural Co-op & People for a Healthy Community

Wednesday, November 13 2019

When farmers and low-income community members are supported, our community is healthier and stronger. This is exactly what has resulted from the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program on Gabriola. 

The program is a healthy eating initiative funded by the Ministry of Health that supports farmers’ markets and strengthens food security across BC. 

Our partner, People for a Healthy Community, provided coupons to lower income families, pregnant women, and seniors participating in their food literacy programs. 

Each household enrolled received $21/week in coupons for sixteen weeks, to spend at participating farmers markets on vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, meat and fish. 

Introduced in May, the program has put just shy of $12,000 into the local economy, first into the pockets of program participants and then into the pockets of local farmers when the coupons are redeemed.

This program benefited 25 households in the initial program, and we were able to add 13 households through a Canadian Institute of Health Research study. 

On Gabriola, this market season benefited 42 adults, 48 children/teens, and 14 seniors by providing enrolled households increased access to nutritious, locally grown food. 

We are living in interesting times and the act of localizing our food systems as much as possible is important to the health of local residents, our agriculture businesses, and our local economy.

One of the farmers on redeeming coupons stated, “Great, now I can pay my bill at Arbutus.”

Participants told of the very real impact on their lives:

 “I could buy more firewood this year; usually it’s heat or eat, this year I can do both. Some children asked me about the coupons, wondering what they were. I was able to describe how the entire community is working together to make sure we all get to eat.”

“The savings meant the world to me being on a fixed income. The program itself encouraged me to eat fresh as opposed to frozen or canned. For my dietary needs this allowed me to eat a proper diet.”

A local retired physician described this initiative as a “socioeconomic win for the families, the farmers and the community.”

For more information about the program visit: https://bcfarmersmarket.org/coupon-program/how-it-works/.

We are looking forward to strengthening this initiative in 2020.

For more information, contact Eric Veale, Gabriola Agricultural Co-Op, at ericveale@shaw.ca or Kenda Chang-Swanson, People for a Healthy Community Food Programs Coordinator, at food@phcgabriola.org