FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 27, 2020
Press Release: Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Renews its Province-wide Food Bucks Pilot Project
Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS) is pleased to announce the renewal of a highly successful province-wide project. Our Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Project involves FMNS working with our member farmers’ markets and partner social organizations to increase food security for low-income Nova Scotians while supporting local producers and farmers. The Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Project allows project participants to use an anonymous but fully trackable alternative currency that can be redeemed at any vendor stall at participating markets. This project was first made possible thanks to $63,100 in generous funding provided by the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage (CCH) in the 2018/2019 fiscal year.
Year 1 of our project was a tremendous success. FMNS issued $42,000 in an anonymous yet fully trackable currency, or “food bucks”, to 10 partner organizations—such as shelters and food banks—working in conjunction with farmers’ markets in 6 communities. Over 100 low-income households benefited from this program in 2019. Coupon redemption rates were notably very high during our first year, with 88.9% of all food coupons being used by February, 2020, and many markets allowing unused coupons to be redeemed later in 2020.
Even more impressively, despite no restrictions on how coupons could be redeemed, participants overwhelmingly made healthy spending decisions on locally-sourced food. Over 84% of the redeemed dollars went on food, demonstrating a clear need, given that Nova Scotia is the most food insecure province in Canada.
“The key to having thriving, successful and strong communities is to have inclusive food security”, says Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Leo Glavine. “We are pleased to support initiatives like the Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Project, which not only increases food security to vulnerable Nova Scotians, but plays an important role in the optimal growth, health, and well-being of the province.”
Now, thanks to an additional $65,000 in funding from CCH, FMNS and our member markets are thrilled to be able to renew the Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program for the 2019/2020 fiscal year. This program is made all the more important by the economic downturn and increased food insecurity caused by COVID-19. FMNS has confirmed that last year’s participating farmers’ markets and partner organizations are able to renew and revamp their efforts for 2020. Markets taking place this year include the Truro Farmers’ Market, Sydney’s Cape Breton Farmers’ Market, Wolfville Farmers’ Market, New Glasgow Farmers’ Market, Lunenburg Farmers’ Market, and Windsor’s Avon Community Farmers’ Market.
“COVID-19 has drastically changed the landscape for our farmers’ markets, but we’ve seen an incredible amount of ingenuity and adaptability from our markets, and an overwhelming showing of support from the community to support our local producers,” says Justin Cantafio, Executive Director of Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia. “With so many of our farmers’ markets working hard to keep providing food and necessities, we’re actually in a great position to work with our partner organizations and participating markets to explore innovative techniques such as e-coupons or food boxes to help get healthy local food to those who need it most.”
FMNS will continue to explore opportunities to raise funds to support a further expansion of this year’s project and for 2021, and will bring on more farmers’ markets and program participants where possible.
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For more information or to request an interview, contact:
Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia Cooperative
Find us online at www.farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca
Facebook: Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia
About Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS)
Founded in 2004, Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia (FMNS) Cooperative is a non-profit cooperative and the only farmers’ market sector association east of Ontario. With over 30 unique members representing over 1,500 owner-operated businesses across the province, our cooperative is the unified voice of our region’s farmers’ market sector. Our cooperative advances growth and prosperity for our member farmers’ markets and their vendors through training, resources, advocacy, promotion, and community. Together, our organization and our members are building a cooperative and dynamic farmers’ market sector cultivating successful businesses, vibrant local economies, and healthy communities.