Wolfville local food bucks: A farmers' market coupon program designed to increase community food security
LE3 .A278 2017
Bachelor of Community Development
Millions of people go hungry in Canada each day, and this issue has been addressed by food banks, community food centres, and other models. An alternative model is coupon programs where low-income families receive weekly vouchers for their local farmers’ market to purchase more fresh foods. There is research to support the effectiveness of coupon programs in the United States, but limited information pertaining to Canada. Prior to conducting this study, there were no records of any farmers’ market coupon programs in Atlantic Canada. The purpose of this research was to explore how best to design a farmers' market food coupon program to increase the access of fresh local food for people with low incomes in rural areas. This was done through a six-week pilot project in Wolfville, Nova Scotia where 17 people received weekly farmers’ market coupons. Participants were identified by the local bank and were involved in the design and evaluation of the program through pre- and post-interviews. The program helped overcome the barriers of price, transportation, and seasonality and people’s produce consumption increased from 2.12 to 2.940 servings of fruits and vegetables during the program. There were no restrictions on the coupons and 91% were spent on food. Overall, this program was successful and it also helped increase participants’ social support networks. Local food must be affordable and accessible to achieve community food security. The lessons learned from this pilot project can provide insight to future planning for programs of this nature in other rural communities in Atlantic Canada and beyond.
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