Kelowna families get access to Farmers’ Market bounty with provincial program

Spending their weekly allotment from the B.C.'s Farmers' Market Nutrition Coupon, local families can shop the market with ease

Feeding her five young children locally-grown, organic foods wasn’t always possible, but with a little help from the  Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program Aislinn O’Grady can now do just that.

Speaking Saturday at a provincial government press conference set amid the hustle and bustle of Kelowna’s weekly farmers’ market, O’Grady explained that the coupon program has allowed her brood to access  foods that once seemed out of reach.

“We would come and walk around with the kids and look, but we never found room in our budget to shop,” she said. “With these coupons we can get local organic fruits and veggies… it allows a wider variety of food into my kids diets, which I appreciate. And it means we can buy local,  which is really nice.

Now when her family goes to the market, the children walk around and each choose something they like spending their weekly allotment from the coupon program, and O’Grady doesn’t have to agonize over whether she can afford it or whether typical childhood finickiness will create waste.

“If they don’t eat it all, I just finish it,” she said. “We are thankful we can come to the farmers market and get nice local food for our family.”

The coupon program has been around since 2012, but it got a $1 million boost Saturday, meaning  that 10,000 British Columbians will this year be able to access fresh local foods in their respective communities.

Each week, program participants receive $15 worth of coupons that can be used at one of the 63 participating markets in B.C.

“That’s about $240 for the (farmers’ market) season,” said Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick at the press conference.

“This program is not only about nutritious food, however.  To receive coupons participants are asked to take nutrition and skills building classes offered by local community, agency partners.”

In the case of Kelowna, those agency parents include the Bridge,  the Central Okanagan Food Bank and the Seniors Outreach Society.

:B.C. can be very proud of the wold class produce we grow and farmers’ markets are a great way for producers to share their high quality product with their communities,” said Letnick.

“The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon program is a great way to help people get home grown B.C. produce while developing a strong, sustainable agriculture sector.”

The Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon program runs for 16 week from June through October 2016 and is administered by the B.C. Association of Farmers Markets.