The Manitoba government is providing almost $1.1 million over three years to Direct Farm Manitoba to support its Manitoba Community Food Currency Program, which works to improve food security for Manitobans in need while also supporting local agri-businesses, announced Agriculture Minister Derek Johnson.
“As exceptional inflationary measures continue driving up the cost of food, more Manitobans face the burden of being unable to meet their own and their family’s nutritional needs,” said Johnson. “This unique food currency initiative helps ensure Manitobans in need have reliable and equitable access to healthy food that promotes their well-being, while simultaneously supporting farmers markets and local agri-product businesses.”
Direct Farm Manitoba launched the Manitoba Community Food Currency Program in 2020 as a community-building initiative that aimed to empower Manitobans facing food insecurity by providing food currency that can be used to purchase locally produced fruit, vegetables, meat and processed foods at farmers markets.
The Manitoba government’s investment will ensure 700 families in the province benefit from the program annually over the next three years, noted Johnson.
Community-based social service organizations will identify families disproportionately affected by inflation and in need of healthy food. Each family will receive $28 in food currency per week for 14 weeks ($392 in total) during the summer market season from late June to early October.
With up to 26 participating markets, the initiative will support families in Winnipeg and in rural areas, noted Johnson.
In addition to supporting families, the program increases sales for vendors at farmers markets, helping to strengthen their economic viability and the viability of the markets, added the minister.
“We are thrilled to see the program expand, building on its previous success, with this support from the province,” said Kristie Beynon, executive director, Direct Farm Manitoba. “With the price of food skyrocketing, an increasing number of Manitoba households are struggling with food insecurity. This program increases access to healthy, local food for those who need it most while supporting our local farmers and farmers markets and building stronger communities. It really is a win-win-win.”
The investment in the food currency program builds on the Manitoba government’s ongoing effort to help families make ends meet, noted Johnson.
The $87-million Family Affordability Package unveiled in August 2022 provides benefits to families with children, seniors living on fixed incomes and Manitobans most in need.
“This additional investment under our government’s Family Affordability Package is truly a wonderful initiative,” said Johnson. “Families in need will have greater access to fresh, local food and farmers markets while agri-product businesses will realize increased sales.”
“For three years now, I have been involved with the Manitoba Community Food Currency program at the Carman Farmers Market- both as a vendor and to administer the program,” said Edith Rook, Carman Farmers’ Market. “The benefits I’ve observed, for the households having financial challenges, as well as the vendors, are beyond numbering. Inclusion and improvements for all!”
More information about the Manitoba Community Food Currency Program can be found at: www.directfarmmanitoba.ca/programs/farmer/.