The Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre undertook an extensive evaluation process to capture the impact of our Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program pilot project in 2019. To read the full report, please click here! The Executive Summary can be found below.
The Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Pilot Program launched in May 2019 (and ended in January 2020), as a means to achieve three objectives:
- To provide financial support to those in need to access healthy food, recognizing that Nova Scotia has the highest rate of food insecurity in Canada.
- To provide an experience that supported physical, mental, and community health;
- To support local producers and farmers in developing a robust food system in Nova Scotia.
With funding support from the Nova Scotia government – and in-kind/administrative support from many other partners – FMNS distributed $42,000 worth of food coupons to 105 households across 6 markets: Avon Community (Windsor), Cape Breton, Lunenburg, New Glasgow, Truro, and Wolfville. It should be noted that while some of the households were comprised of individuals, many represented couples and families (including spouses and children), meaning that the overall impact of the program extended well beyond 105 individuals. Based on participant self-reporting, we estimate that this program directly increased food security for more than 150 individuals.
By nearly any measure, the Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Pilot Program was a resounding success, with many building blocks now in place to grow the program in Year 2 and beyond. Consider the following:
- Coupon redemption rates were extremely high, with 88.9% of all food coupons used. Several markets have granted permission for participants to redeem coupons after the program has officially ended, which is expected to drive the final redemption rate well over 90%.
- Despite having no restrictions on how their coupons could be redeemed, participants overwhelmingly made healthy spending decisions on locally-sourced food, demonstrating a clear need. More than 84% of all coupons redeemed were used directly towards the purchase of foods, including produce, prepared foods, and other agri-food products.
- More than 75% of all program participants completed a survey at both the beginning and end of the program, evaluating their experience (results included within the report).
- Program loyalty was high. In fact, only a single participant across all markets opted not to see the program through to its completion.
- On a scale of 1-10 (where 1 = not valuable and 10 = extremely valuable) participants across all markets gave the program an average score of 9.4/10. 72% of respondents rated it a perfect 10.
- Economic impact – though not directly measured – is presumed to be significant. All coupons were redeemed for locally produced foods and goods, resulting in minimal economic leakage.
- 57% of participants indicated they made at least one new friend or social contact
- 98% of participants purchased foods that were not part of their diet previously
- 78% of participants learned something new about food and nutrition
- 62% of participants expect to make long-term changes to their diet as a result of this program
- 90% of participants – as a result of this program – purchased previously unaffordable food(s)
- 85% of participants felt a greater sense of belonging to their community as a result of this program
- 87% of participants who at healthier foods than usual during the program
- 85% of participants – as a result of this program – felt they had more money to meet their other (non-food/grocery) needs
- 92% of participants felt welcomed and comfortable attending the farmers’ market
- 97% of participants believe they received good value for their food coupons, overall
- 90% of participants benefitted from the social and cultural aspects of the farmers’ markets
 Including a $63,100 investment from Communities, Culture, and Heritage Nova Scotia