The local agency promoting a provincial program whereby a coupon program assists food buyers and food growers is looking forward to it returning this year.
Last year 25 sets of coupons were provided through Houston Link to Learning and 15 set of coupons through the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre to lower income people, pregnant women and seniors through a program run by the BC Association of Farmers’ Market Association.
Financed by a provincial grant, people use the coupons to buy food products at farmers’ markets with the vendors then turning in the coupons for reimbursement.
“The farmers’ market nutrition coupon program is really important for Houston community members and is also really good for the local vendors at the market,” said Houston Link to Learning executive director Marian Ells.
“The coupons can only be spent at a BC Farmers Market on specific items such as meat, eggs and produce. Most of the funds from the coupons does get spent at the Houston market.”
Each set provides a week of coupons valued at $21 per week and the program lasts 16 weeks.
Last year $13,440 worth of coupons were distributed in Houston and area with $11,487 of that amount used at the Houston farmer’s market.
“Coupon recipients are able to spend the coupons at any BC Farmers’ Market that participates in the program. Some people save the coupons to spend at other markets where there is a little more variety. We are really happy though that the majority are spent in Houston,” said Ells.
The District of Houston council two weeks ago sent a thank you letter to provincial health minister Adrian Dix whose ministry finances the coupon program as an encouragement to offer the program this year.
The letter was requested by the BC Farmers’ Market Association.
In the meantime, Houston Link to Learning has tentatively set June 4 as the first farmers’ market with the location this season to be at Steelhead Park.
The pandemic last year restricted activity at the market with safety protocols in place once again this year.
“Current rules and protocols allow us to run the market with some distancing, number limits and one-way traffic that unfortunately we have all become used to,” said Ells.
“Being outside helps with this particular program.”