By Carole James
As we head into summer, our local markets will soon be brimming with fresh produce and seasonal treats. It’s timely to think about food security and increasing access to local, healthy sources of food.
Through Grow BC, Feed BC, and Buy BC, our government is committed to strengthening B.C.’s agri-food and seafood sector. We’ve introduced a number of initiatives aimed at making it easier for citizens to enjoy locally grown and produced food.
Working from the ground up, Grow BC aims to help new farmers access land and support local food production. We’re committed to strengthening protections around the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), first established by the Dave Barrett New Democrat government in 1973.
Feed BC is a new initiative which is going to ensure more of the food served to health care patients is from B.C. In partnership with Interior Health, patients across all of that district’s 55 health-care facilities will soon benefit from healthy, great-tasting meals. The experience gained will act as a guide for implementation across all other provincial health authorities and potentially other public institutions as well.
Healthy, great-tasting meals can help people during recovery. Fortunately, we don’t have to look far in B.C. for delicious and nutritious food. Increasing access to B.C.-grown and produced foods in health-care facilities not only improves the freshness and quality of the meals served, it better supports the patients’ experience, outcomes and the livelihood of B.C.’s farmers and producers.
To help local farmers expand markets for their products, we’re bringing back an enhanced Buy BC marketing program. Buy BC’s brand power, which was popular with B.C. growers and producers – but cancelled by the previous government – is making it easier for British Columbians to explore new and different products from around the province.
We know buying local not only supports good-paying agricultural jobs, but also helps foster a more resilient and sustainable food supply. Our goal is to connect more British Columbians and visitors with the great food and beverages made right here in B.C., so when people are making their shopping decisions, they’re reaching for B.C. products.
Our government has also expanded the BC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Coupon Program to support more lower income British Columbians and expectant mothers gain access to healthy, locally grown food. By raising the participant household amount by nearly $100 and increasing the number of eligible participants in the program, we’re ensuring more families can enjoy fresh and nutritious local foods.
In our community, families can benefit from the program at both the James Bay Community Market and the Moss Street Market. Coupons can be applied towards the purchase of vegetables, fruit, nuts, eggs, dairy, herbs, meat and fish.
For more information on the Nutrition Coupon Program, please visit https://bcfarmersmarket.org/coupon-program/how-it-works/
I hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable summer. If you see me at one of our community markets, please say hello!
MLA, Victoria-Beacon Hill
1084 Fort Street, Victoria, BC V8V 3K4
Phone: 250 952-4211