B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham takes questions in the B.C. legislature in 2017. (Hansard TV)

UPDATE: B.C. will fund another year of fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in schools

John Horgan government working on school meal program

A volunteer-run organization providing fresh fruit, vegetables and milk to B.C. public and Indigenous schools for the past 15 years will get the funding it needs to continue the program for the next school year, according to a statement from Premier John Horgan’s office on Wednesday.

The clarification came after Agriculture Minister Lana Popham was questioned for a second day on the fate of the program, which opposition MLAs said requested $3.5 million to pay 1,000 farmers and distribute the produce.

“The School Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program will be funded for the upcoming school year,” the May 12 statement to Black Press Media said. “The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Health are working together to provide local school meal programs. Further details will made available in the coming days.”

Questioned about the program in the B.C. legislature Tuesday, Popham confirmed that it was being funded by the health ministry, and efforts are underway to find a way to continue the service. Popham has been reorganizing food programs such as BuyBC for retailers and FeedBC, with a network of community food hubs and local produce for hospitals.

“We are looking at ways of how to support this type of program,” Popham said. “I’ll be having discussions with the minister of health and the association in the near future.”

B.C. Liberal MLA Ian Paton said the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Foundation has been asking since February if it will have the funds to carry on work, asking for an answer by May 10 to allow ordering of B.C. products so farmers can plant them. The program is the only source of fresh produce for students in some schools, especially in the north, he said.

RELATED: B.C. students not getting enough fresh food, study finds

RELATED: B.C. funds expansion of ‘food hub’ community kitchens

Abbotsford West MLA Mike de Jong read from letters from Quadra Island, Big Lake Elementary, Clinton and a school at Mile 293 of the Alaska Highway. The foundation is “at its wit’s end” trying to keep it going, he said.

“Without the funding commitment from government now, they cannot plan to operate into next year, into the next school year,” de Jong said. “They’ll have to notify the 1,000 farmers that their products aren’t going to be required. They’re going to have to notify the 4,000 volunteers that help distribute the products to students that their help is no longer required.”

Popham praised the program and agreed that for some students, it provides the only fresh produce they get.

“We know that the earlier that children get a taste of fresh British Columbia produce in their lives, the more chance that they will have to be healthy eaters,” Popham said. “This is something that I’m very interested in. I know the Minister of Health is and the Minister of Education, and we will be working together to find a way to distribute this amazing produce around the province.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

AgricultureBC politics

Just Posted

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Holger Schwichtenberg and his son Philip talk in the barn of the 150-acre Schwichtenberg farm. This farm is one of many throughout B.C. that support more than 12,500 jobs across the province in the dairy industry. (Contributed Photo/B.C. Dairy Association)
Agassiz dairy farm a model of care for environment, animals, and family

Farm is part of a dairy sector centred in the Fraser Valley, supporting 12,500 jobs province-wide

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

The Great Gordini puts on a magic show for an avid audience during the first Storytime in the Park in this 2019 photo. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)
Storytime in the Park returns this summer

Day 1 registration is on June 30

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Surrey Fire Service battled a dock fire along the Fraser River late Friday night (June 18). It was on Musqueam Drive, near Industrial Road, around 10:45 p.m. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
VIDEO: Fire engulfs pier on Surrey side of the Fraser River

Dock has reportedly been unused for a long time

Most Read