Three programs promoting healthy eating and access to local fruit and vegetables for lower-income families, seniors and young students are receiving a combined $3 million to continue their successful programs.
Funding of $1 million each is going to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets for the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program, the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation for the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program and the Public Health Association of BC for the Farm to School BC program.
“Making healthy food choices is important for health and wellness,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “By providing access to local produce these programs help make eating fruit and vegetables part of a regular diet.”
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program helps lower-income families, seniors and pregnant women continue to have easier access to healthy foods by providing program participants $15 worth of coupons that can be used at one of the 63 participating markets throughout British Columbia. The coupons are used like cash to purchase locally grown fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and herbs. The program supports an estimated 10,000 people each year over 16 weeks from June to October, and is administered by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Since 2012, and including this new funding, the Province has provided $6.75 million to support this program.
“British Columbians can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, grown right in their own backyards,” said Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick. “Our farmers’ markets are a great place for families to visit, to make long-lasting memories and support local farmers and processors.”
“This investment by the Province of B.C. will have meaningful and direct impact on B.C. farmers and communities by ensuring that farmers are able to consistently provide local, healthy meats and vegetables to the communities that we live in,” said Wylie Bystedt, president of the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. “Increasing access to healthy local food for lower-income families, pregnant women, and seniors contributes to the health of these individuals and the economic prosperity of farmers who sell at B.C. farmers’ markets.”
The BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program provides B.C. grown fruit and vegetable snacks right in the classroom to students 12 times a year, allowing them to sample B.C. produce such as apples, plums, cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots. The program is delivered to 1,451 or over 90% of public and First Nation schools throughout British Columbia, reaching over 500,000 students. Milk is also delivered to students in Kindergarten to grade five thanks to a partnership with the BC Dairy Association. With this new funding, the Ministry of Health and the Provincial Health Services Authority have provided combined funding of $29.7 million to the BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation since 2010-11 to support the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program.
“Good nutrition and healthy eating habits are so important to learn and practice early on in life,” said Education Minister Mike Bernier. “We are making sure students of every age are provided with fresh and healthy food options through these different school programs, while encouraging positive lifestyle choices through physical health education, cooking and food studies classes.”
“BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation is proud to work with B.C. farmers to provide fresh, top quality fruits, vegetables and milk to students, along with the locally grown story,” said Pat Tonn, executive director, BC Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation. “It is exciting to see students trying healthy B.C. grown products and loving them.”
The Farm to School BC program brings healthy, local food into schools, while providing hands-on learning opportunities that foster food literacy, all while strengthening the local food system and enhancing school and community connectedness. Farm to School BC programs empower students and school communities to make informed food choices while contributing to vibrant, sustainable regional food systems that support the health of people, place and planet. Since 2012, and including this funding, the Province has provided $1.65 million to support the program.
“Farm to School BC makes a positive difference in the lives of students, teachers and local farming partners,” said Shannon Turner, executive director, Public Health Association of BC. “Strengthening food literacy and healthy eating habits is good for B.C. students and their families. We are thrilled to continue to build this program across British Columbia in partnership with the Ministry of Health and the Province of B.C.”
These three programs are some of the many supports available to British Columbians to help them adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These programs support Healthy Families BC, the Province’s health promotion plan to encourage British Columbians to make healthier choices. This plan helps British Columbians maintain their health and wellness through programs aimed at decreasing tobacco use, increasing opportunities for physical activity, supporting healthy eating and promoting healthy weights.
Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program: www.bcfarmersmarket.org/nutrition-coupon-program
BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutritional Program: www.sfvnp.ca
Farm to School: farmtoschoolbc.ca/
For more information on Healthy Families BC, visit: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca