Piloted in the 2020 market season, the Manitoba Community Food Currency Program is a community building initiative that empowers members of our community who frequently experience barriers to accessing healthy whole food by providing them with access to community food currency to purchase food directly from participating farmers’ marketsnacross Manitoba. Together Direct Farm Manitoba, market coordinators, and community partner organizations promote food literacy and food security by making healthy, local food more accessible to participants. The Manitoba Community Food Currency Program is modelled after the highly successful British Columbia Association of Farmers’ Markets (BCAFM) Coupon Nutrition Program, which has been running for over a decade. Recently, Nova Scotia has also begun their own ‘market bucks’ coupon program.
Participating farmers’ markets partner with community organizations who are already connected with people who would benefit from better access to fresh, local food. These community partner organizations select individuals and families who would benefit from increased food security. Direct Farm Manitoba provides small community food currency to their community partners who pass them on to participants, who can use it to purchase food from farmers at their local farmers’ market.
Direct Farm Manitoba exists to represent and advocate for the direct market farmers and farmers’ markets in Manitoba. The Manitoba Community Food Currency Program is a win for producers, a win for farmers’ markets and a win for communities!
This program aims to provide these positive outcomes:
- Greater access to fresh, local food households struggling with food insecurity
- Strengthened communities through relationship building, increased health outcomes, and improved overall mental health
- Support local resilient agriculture through the direct support of Manitoba farmers
The program was piloted in the 2020 farmers’ market season, partnering with both urban and rural community partners. It expanded in both 2021 and 2022, serving 230 households in the 2022 season. Farmers have reported increased sales and markets have seen more foot traffic, while participants have had greater access to fresh, local foods.
We are thrilled to report that the program has received almost $1.1 million to expand the program for the 2023, 2024, and 2025 seasons. This investment from the Province of Manitoba will allow the program to expand to better meet community demand.
Applications for community partners and farmers’ markets to get involved with the program will open in the new year.
Check back here for details as they are released.
Are you a Manitoba farmer’s market and want to know what is involved in being part of the program?
You can learn more here.