This summer more than 70 low income families and seniors on the Sunshine Coast will enjoy increased access to fresh local fruits and vegetables through the Nutrition Coupon Program, a partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets.
“It’s a win-win for both families and farmers,” said Meghan Molnar, Public Health Dietician for Vancouver Coastal Health. “I recognize that it’s only a drop in the bucket for food security, but it gets families out to farmer’s markets, which kids especially enjoy, and they meet local farmers, who also benefit.”
The Nutrition Coupon Program was first piloted on the Sunshine Coast in 2009, and now includes the Gibsons, Roberts Creek and Sechelt Farmers’ Markets. In 2016, the program will provide $15 worth of coupons per week for 16 weeks, redeemable for fresh fruits and vegetables.
Molnar is working with Celia Robben, Manager of the Gibsons Friday Farmers’ Market to raise funds for the program so it can be expanded to reach more families. Last year they raised $1,600. So far this year they have raised $1,000 from a Sunshine Coast Credit Union sponsorship and a May 11 fundraiser hosted by Persephone Brewing, and they will continue to take donations online at www.share-there.com until the end of May.
“Fifteen dollars a week may not sound like much, but is quite a lot when you’re working for $10.45 an hour,” noted Robben. “We’d like to get as many families enrolled as we can.”
Coupons are distributed through the Sechelt First Nation, Sechelt Seniors Centre, VCH Nurse Family Partnership and programs such as Strong Start, Bellies and Babies, Infant Development, and Tibetan Resettlement.