This summer, Gordon Neighbourhood House led two initiatives to aid food insecurity through the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program (FMNCP) and Grocery Gift Card Program. Over 1,000 West End Households applied and received either a gift card or coupon; they submitted a food form (a survey for Gordon House to get contact information and discovery what food programs our neighbours are interested in) and then had a choice to make that was dependent on lifestyle and need. Neighbours received either a $100 Presidents Choice Grocery Gift Card that is redeemable at No frills and Your Independent Grocer (and other PC stores) or received $216 worth of Farmers’ market coupons for the West End Farmers Market (1100 Comox St) but can be used at any BC Farmers’ Market.
The Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program (FMNCP) is a healthy eating initiative that supports farmers’ markets and strengthens food security across British Columbia. Gordon Neighbourhood House delivered coupons to lower-income families, pregnant people and seniors. The coupons can be spent at all BCAFM member farmers’ markets that participate in the FMNCP and can be used to purchase vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, vegetable & fruit plants, honey, meat and fish. Funding was provided by the Province of British Columbia and community donors/organizations. The following funders and initiatives have added more than $250,000 in coupons to the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program.
In 2007, the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program began as a pilot project that operated in each of the regional health authorities. The Ministry of Health began funding the program in 2012 and continued to expand between 2012-2014. Since 2015, the PMNP has been in full operation and now serves over 80 communities and reaches over 18,000 families, seniors and pregnant people from over 6000 households in BC.
This program aimed to improve the health and well-being of British Columbians at every stage of life; to help British Columbians better manage their own health and reduce chronic disease by focusing on four key areas: healthy eating, healthy lifestyles, resources for parents and fostering healthy communities. The Population and Public Health Program at BC Centre for Disease Control, Provincial Health Services Authority works with partners and a variety of stakeholders across the province to promote healthy eating.
The grocery gift card program was established in conjunction with the Farmers Market Coupon program to allow Gordon House Community a choice depending on their needs. Due to COVID-19, the gift card option was created to relieve some of the financial burdens that the pandemic has caused.
We have received much appreciation from our participants and got many comments about the wonderful veggies and fruits they bought at the Farmers’ Market. Here are a few messages from some of our participants.
“I am enjoying going to the market and spending my coupons on really good quality veggie, meat and fish that I wouldn’t be otherwise to afford. It’s really appreciated.“– Participant, 2022
“This is really wonderful – thank you so much for your support of local seniors like me.”– Participant, 2022
“I just wanted to thank you once again for facilitating the distribution of the gift cards. This is such a wonderful boost as I watch prices rise and rise and rise!”– Participant, 2022
Although we had a delayed start to delivering this program, we soon experienced lineups of people outside of Gordon House who were interested in the program. It was truly wonderful to see the smile on people’s faces when gifting this present. Gordon House thanks all participants and funders for making this a successful initiative and we look forward to offering this program again next year.