Flourish Community Development Co-operative undertook an extensive evaluation process to capture the impact of our 2022 Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program. To read the full report, please click here! The Executive Summary can be found below.
The 2022 Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program was the fourth iteration of a program first piloted in May 2019. This iteration upheld the same three key objectives as the previous three iterations:
- To provide financial support to those in need to access healthy food, recognizing that over 1 in 5 people in Nova Scotia are food insecure;
- To provide an experience that supports physical, mental, and community health; and
- To support local producers and farmers in developing a robust and resilient food system in Nova Scotia.
With funding support from: the Nova Scotia government department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage ($494,800); Second Harvest; Nova Scotia Young Farmers; and Off Beat Farm – FMNS distributed $397,440 worth of food coupons over an 8-month period to 585 households (an average of approximately $679 per household) across 33 markets, including all markets that participated during the first three years.
These 33 markets were:
- Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market (new to 2022)
- Annapolis Royal Farmers’ and Traders’ Market
- Antigonish Farmers’ Market
- Avon Community Farmers’ Market
- Barrington Farmers’ Market
- Bridgewater Farmers’ Market
- Cape Breton Farmers’ Market
- Chester Farmers and Artisans Market
- Fairview Clayton Park Farmers’ Market
- Halifax Brewery Farmers’ Market
- Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market
- Hope Blooms Farmers’ Market (new to 2022)
- Hubbards Farmers’ Market
- Kentville Farmers’ Market
- Lunenburg Farmers’ Market
- Mabou Farmers’ Market
- Merigomish Schoolhouse Marketplace
- Musquodoboit Harbour Farmers’ Market
- New Germany Farmers’ Market
- New Glasgow Farmers’ Market
- North Mountain Farmers’ Market
- Novalea Farmers’ Market
- Privateer Farmers’ Market
- Prospect Communities Farmers’ Market
- Pugwash Farmers’ Market (new to 2022)
- Shelburne Guild Hall Farmers’ Market (new to 2022)
- Spryfield Farmers’ Market
- Tantallon Farmers’ Market (new to 2022)
- Tatamagouche Farmers’ Market
- The Fairgrounds Farmers’ Market (new to 2022)
- Truro Farmers’ Market
- Wolfville Farmers’ Market
- Yarmouth Farmers’ Community Market
By nearly any measure, the 2022 Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program was a great success. Consider the following highlights:
- High redemption rates: Coupon redemption rates were extremely high, with 96.5% of all coupons being used. This figure is higher than the first, second, and third iterations of the program (88.9%, 86% and 86.5% redemption rate, respectively).
- Healthy spending choices: 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 74% of all coupons redeemed were used directly towards the purchase of foods, which included produce, prepared foods, value-added foods and other agri-food products (compared with 78% last year). Almost a quarter (23%) of all redemptions were for produce.
- Engaged participants: 362 participants (62% of all program participants) completed an exit survey at the conclusion of the program to evaluate their experience (results included within the report). This is a significantly high response rate for this type of engagement.
- Tangible benefits: When asked to evaluate the overall benefit of the program, 95% of respondents indicated that the program provided either ‘an extreme amount of benefit’ or ‘quite a bit of benefit’ (This is up from 80% in 2021). Four percent said the program offered ‘some benefit but not much’, and just 1% of respondents indicated they received no real benefit at all.
- Expanding social networks: 79% of participants indicated they made at least one new friend or social contact through their participation in the program. This is up somewhat from the first three years of the program (57%, 43% and 61%), which may be in part a result of lowered social distancing protocols.
- Diversifying dietary choices: 89% of participants purchased foods that were not part of their diet previously (Comparative to 88% and 82% in the previous two years of the program).
- Expected long-term dietary changes: 82% of participants expect to make long-term changes to their diet because of their participation in this program (Up from 61%, 62% and 50% in the first three years of the program).
- Increased sense of community belonging: 86% of participants report feeling a greater sense of belonging to their community because of their participation in this program. This is consistent with 85% during the pilot and 92% during the third year of the program.
- Eating healthier: 91% of participants reported eating healthier foods than usual during their participation in the program (up slightly from 81%, 87% and 85% in the first three years of the program).
- Freeing budgets to meet other needs: 94% of participants – as a result of this program – felt they had more money to meet their other (non-food/grocery) needs. This is consistent with 88%, 85% and 94% during the first three years of the program.
- Good value for money: 97% of participants believe they received good value for their Food Bucks overall (This is consistent with 97% during the pilot,and slightly up from 93% during year two and 91% in year three).
- Spending time browsing and socialising: 59% of all respondents reported that they stayed at the market for more than 30 minutes each week (up from 41% last year), while an additional 26% said they stayed between 21-30 minutes. Only 15% of participants reported staying less than 20 minutes.
- Making it a social outing: 56% of respondents either always or often attended the market with a family member or friend. 17% of respondents sometimes attended the market with someone else, while 27% of respondents either always or almost always attended the market by themselves.
- Extended reach of purchased foods: 61% of all respondents indicated that other people in their household regularly consumed products they purchased using Food Bucks (slightly down from 73% in 2021). On average, participants regularly shared their purchased foods with 2.35 other people (up from 1.87 in 2021). Therefore, less participants regularly shared their purchased foods in 2022 compared to 2021, however of the people who did share, they shared with a larger number of people in 2022 than in 2021.
- Injecting more money into the local economy: 66% of participants reported spending money during their market visits in addition to their Food Bucks. 37% of participants reported spending more than $10 of non-Food Bucks money per visit, on average, with 21% of that group spending more than $20 of non-Food Bucks money per visit, on average. An estimated average additional expenditure of all participants was $8.46 per visit.
- 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. Many participants noted that knowing they were supporting local producers when using their Food Bucks was an important aspect of their program experience.
- High Interest in further participation: 98% of participants would – if given the opportunity – participate in the program again.
- Continued market visits: 64% of participants would like to continue visiting their Farmers’ market on a regular basis now that the program has ended. Notably, of the other 46% of participants, many indicated that while they would like to continue visiting, they do not have the funds to do so.
- Significant, positive impact: 80% strongly agreed that the program ‘had a significant, positive impact on my life’.
In Their Own Words
In addition to these measures, participants from all 33 markets offered up glowing endorsements of the program. Here are several examples:
“It’s been an overwhelming experience – I’ve learned so much this year including zucchini and how good it tastes and how to cook/prepare; a great deal about herbs. It’s an experience that gave me something to look forward to and there was always new adventure. Plus it gave me a sense of this is for me…my me time. Thx 🙂 <3”
“I honestly don’t know how I would feed my family the way I’ve been able to while using this program. I absolutely LOVE it and thank you for it. Because of this program, I have been able to dive into the world of canning & preserving foods. I have shelves filling up with homemade & local “goodies” which are all in jars & shelf stable. Jams, jellies, sauces, veggies, even sticks! The list goes on. Also, buying some items at the market meant I was able to free up more money in my grocery budget for things you can’t get at the market (but wish you could!).”
“It’s been a wonderful and truly helpful program. It’s been a heart’s joy to prepare nourishing foods for my family. We ate much better when we had access to Food Bucks and the market.”
“Thank you so much for organising such a program. My family and I are so blessed to have been involved. I do hope with all the positive feedback the program is able to continue. We have gained so much more than just some aid in feeding our family. The market is a safe and welcoming place to all. I am happy to have met everyone I have.”
“This program provided myself and children and friends with the greatest gifts of opportunity. It’s the BEST program I have ever participated in, thus far.”
“The program is fantastic, it helped me save on my grocery bill and the food and people at the farmers market were always amazing.”
“It is a great program, and I would definitely recommend it. My kids enjoyed it so much, we went every Saturday. They made new friends, and love going to each vendor, and picking their own veg/fruit and it helps us on our grocery bill this summer a lot.”