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

An RCMP cruiser. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Police kept busy following overnight vehicle thefts, B&Es near 100 Mile House

One man is facing charges and three others suspects in relation to the thefts

An RCMP cruiser. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)
Driver expected to recover after rolling vehicle in ditch near Gateway

55-year-old woman taken to hospital after 10:24 a.m. incident

Murray Casey, centre, was among the participants at the re-opening of the Clinton Museum last week. (Jennifer Bolster photo - submitted)
Clinton Museum open for business this summer

The occasion was marked by a little celebration at the museum at the beginning of June

(File Photo)
Police watchdog clears 100 Mile RCMP of wrongdoing after man dies in Williams Lake shelter

The man had been in custody at 100 Mile RCMP detachment prior to being taken to Williams Lake

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read