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

This black GM Terrain crosses the centre line and collided with an oncoming GMC Acadia in Langley, flipping both vehicles. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Survivors of rollover crash in Langley thank Good Samaritans for coming to their aid

Collision flipped vehicle into a 10-foot ditch on 16th Avenue

Participants in the 2019 Valley GranFondo wait for the starting signal in 2019. The event, which had to be called off because of the pandemic, is tentatively set to resume in 2022. (Langley Advance Times file)
No GranFondo cycling event in Fort Langley this year

Organizer hopes to be back for 2022

Shannon Todd Booth, the Langley Hospice Society communication and funds manager, with some of the ceramic hearts on sale at Saturday’s fundraiser at the Fort Langley Community Hall. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
First in-person fundraiser by Langley Hospice Society a success

For society volunteers and members of the Fraser Valley Potters Guild, it was a good day

Langley standup comedian Susan Thompson said the cost of her return-to-Canada quarantine in hotel was more than she made during a working trip to the U.S. (Canadian Press/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An expensive return home for Langley standup comedian

Susan Thompson scored work in Las Vegas, but a compulsory hotel COVID quarantine put her in the red

New Langley dining establishment The Barley Merchant was staffing up to open. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
With dining-in back on the menu, Langley restaurants are getting busy again

With the end of the ‘circuit breaker,’ staff are being hired and new looks are being unveiled

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

Val Litwin is the latest candidate to declare his bid for the B.C. Liberal leadership. (Litwin campaign video)
Political newcomer joins contest for B.C. Liberal leadership

Val Litwin a former B.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO

Golden Ears Mountains, captured in May 2021. (Black Press Media files)
2nd year of day passes required for entry into 5 provincial parks launches in B.C.

Pilot program seeks to protect the environment by addressing visitor surges amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Lincoln Mckoen. (YouTube)
Anglican bishop of the central Interior resigns over sexual misconduct allegations

Lincoln Mckoen was elected as a bishop of the Territory of the People region last year

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

The former Kamloops Indian Residential School on the Tk’emlups te Secwépemc reserve. (Allen Douglas/Kamloops This Week)
Tk’emlups preparing for archaeological work at B.C. residential school site where remains found

The 215 graves are, to the band’s knowledge, undocumented deaths for which it is still collecting records

Fans watch the warm-up before Game 6 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens in NHL playoff hockey action Saturday, May 29, 2021 in Montreal. Quebec’s easing of COVID-19 restrictions will allow 2,500 fans to attend the game for the first time in fourteen months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Two-thirds of Canadians say governments shouldn’t lift all COVID-19 restrictions

Poll reports Canadians who gained pandemic weight say they have gained 16 pounds on average

Paul Bernardo is shown in this courtroom sketch during Ontario court proceedings via video link in Napanee, Ont., on October 5, 2018. Teen killer and serial rapist Paul Bernardo is set for a parole hearing today. The designated dangerous offender, has been eligible for full parole for more than three years. Bernardo’s horrific crimes in the 1980s and early 1990s include for kidnapping, torturing and killing Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy near St. Catharines, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Banning
Killer rapist Paul Bernardo faces parole hearing today; victim families opposed

Designated dangerous offender has been eligible for full parole for more than three years.

People look over the damage after a tornado touched down in Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal, Monday, June 21, 2021. Dozens of homes were damaged and one death has been confirmed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
One dead and extensive damage as tornado hits Mascouche, Que., north of Montreal

Damage reported in several parts of the city, and emergency teams dispatched to sectors hardest hit

Most Read