Massachusetts Designating Millions to Combat Pandemic Induced Food Insecurity
As part of a $36 million food security program, Massachusetts’ executive administration unveiled $3 million in grants for residents suffering from urgent food instability due to the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced Wednesday the funding will come as part of the state’s new Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program.
Additionally, the administration revealed 39 new vendors selected for the state’s “Healthy Incentives Program”, which provides benefits for SNAP households that purchase produce from local marketplaces. The vendors were selected based on their ability to serve areas designated as “food deserts”, communities of color, older populations and SNAP clients disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
“During this pandemic, Massachusetts’ food supply chain has faced significant challenges and there is an urgent need for food security to support our most vulnerable residents,” Baker said in a statement. “This new funding is a $3 million investment in the infrastructure we need to continue to respond to the impacts of the pandemic, while creating a system that provides more equitable access to nutritious, local food in the Commonwealth.”
SNAP clients shopping with HIP vendors will receive $1 back on their EBT card for each dollar spent on eligible food items until they reach their monthly limit, according to the program’s webpage. The vendors are comprised of farmers markets, community supported agriculture farm share programs, mobile markets and food stands.
“Increasing food security and the resiliency of our food system is essential to protecting public health and local jobs,” Polito said in a statement. “Our administration’s new grant program will help ensure the Commonwealth’s farmers, fishermen, food banks, and other food businesses can continue contributing to our economy and connect fresh, local food with Massachusetts residents.”
The funding has been designated based on recommendations from the administration’s Food Security Task Force, created to make healthy food items from local vendors readily available for families and individuals. This is the first round of program funding, with more grants expected to follow suit.
Twenty-six grant awardees are now able to apply the funds towards investments in equipment, technology and capacity increases that will assist producers in distributing food to insecure communities. Applications for the grant program will be evaluated through Sept. 15 of this year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the food system,” John Lebeaux, commissioner of Massachusetts’ Department of Agricultural Resources, said in a statement. “These Food Security Infrastructure Grants will help to strengthen the resiliency of Massachusetts’ farmers and fishers, and better connect locally grown and produced food products with the Commonwealth residents most underserved by healthy, fresh food options.”
In The News
SEATTLE — This spring, as the coronavirus spread across Washington, a team of stalwart volunteers set up signature-gathering drive-thrus outside churches and stores. Their aim: to put a referendum on the November ballot overturning a new law that required public schools to teach comprehensive sexual health education. Thousands... Read More
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A November ballot initiative to raise property taxes on big-business owners in California is drawing unconventional political support from health care power players and public health leaders. They see Proposition 15 as a potential savior for chronically underfunded local health departments struggling to respond to the... Read More
WASHINGTON — States that claim changes by the U.S. Postal Service will threaten mail-in voting failed again to get an independent monitor appointed to observe the agency's compliance with a court order. U.S. District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh in Philadelphia on Wednesday denied a request from Pennsylvania's attorney general, Josh Shapiro, to assign a former USPS... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court put the brakes on a lower court order that would have allowed curbside voting in Alabama in November. The underlying lawsuit was filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy... Read More
PHILADELPHIA — Former President Barack Obama delivered a punishing rebuke of his successor Donald Trump's tenure and a clarion call to supporters for his old running mate Joe Biden at a drive-in rally outside Citizens Bank Park as the sun set Wednesday night. Trump's tone and the misinformation he spreads have poisoned American political discourse,... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has drawn even in Texas with President Donald Trump, and Democrat MJ Hegar is closing in on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn in the Quinnipiac University poll of likely Texas voters released Wednesday afternoon. "Biden and Trump find themselves in a Texas standoff, setting the stage for a bare-knuckle battle for 38 electoral votes," said... Read More