May 10th, 2023

Houston ignores the rising cost of food, cuts Farmers’ Market coupon program

HALIFAX – The number of families that can’t afford healthy food in Nova Scotia is now 22 per cent, up from 17 per cent last year. But while more Nova Scotians are struggling, the Houston government is refusing to support programs that could help.

This week, NDP Leader Claudia Chender wrote to the Premier, Minister of Agriculture and Minister of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage calling on them to approve bridge funding to support the Nourishing Communities Food Coupon Program as requested by Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia.

“The bridge funding that’s being requested would prevent this organization from having to cut potentially hundreds of participants from the program during a time when 1 in 4 Nova Scotians is struggling to buy healthy food for their family,” said Chender. “This is exactly the kind of investment Tim Houston should be making to support families, and local growers and producers. This is the time to be fully supporting programs like this, not cutting them.”

In a press release last week, Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia explained that the program saw its member farmers’ markets provide “$397,440 worth of food coupons … to 585 households in 33 communities across Nova Scotia” in 2022.

In the same release, Justin Cantafio, Executive Director of Farmers’ Markets of Nova Scotia said: “The trouble is that the demand for our program is skyrocketing yet proposed budgetary increases can’t be guaranteed until the Province launches its Food & Beverage Strategy. With market season starting as we speak, we’re faced with the harsh reality of needing to reduce program participants when food insecurity rates have never been higher.”

Investments to keep this program going would be a small price to pay to help Nova Scotia families afford healthy, local food.