The Baker-Polito Administration announced over $4.7 million in grants to address urgent food insecurity for residents across the Commonwealth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is being awarded as part of the fifth round of the new $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following recommendations from the Administration’s COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force, which promotes ongoing efforts to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to healthy, local food.
“As Massachusetts residents celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we recognize that food insecurity remains a significant challenge for many families throughout the Commonwealth, making our efforts to secure a resilient, diverse local food supply chain even more critical,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through a $56 million investment through our Food Security Task Force, our Administration is committed to investing in our local food infrastructure and ensuring a secure supply of food, which will enable us to ensure that families throughout Massachusetts can access local, nutritious food as they continue to meet the challenges created by the pandemic.”
The local awardees for the fifth round of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program include:
•Everett Community Growers, $319, Funding will enable the organization to expand the availability of its products to low income individuals and families within the community by investing in equipment (a receipt printer) that enables SNAP/EBT payments to be directly made.
•Chelsea Public Schools, $80,743, The Chelsea Public Schools will utilize program funding to enable the purchasing of new equipment and point of sale tablet technology, which will assist in food distribution through its grab and go meals program.
•Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, $142,770, The funding will enable the organization to implement a Facility Adaption Project, which includes updates and adaptations to BGCB Clubs to prepare for the reopening and/or to safely conduct programming in order to provide services to youth during the 2020-21 program year.
•YMCA of Greater Boston, $183,847, The funding will enable the YMCA of Greater Boston to establish mobile food pantries to deliver food to underserved neighborhoods in Boston. The mobile food pantry will provide full-service food pantry operations and it will rotate on a weekly basis to deliver to as many neighborhoods as possible.
The goal of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program is to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have equitable access to food, especially local food. The program also seeks to ensure that farmers, fishermen and other local food producers are better connected to a strong, resilient food system to help mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption.
The fifth round of the grant program includes 54 awards for a total of $4,742,293 to fund critical investments in technology, equipment, capacity, and other assistance to help local food producers, especially in the distribution of food insecure communities. When evaluating the applications, considerations included equity, economic impact and need, sustainability and scalability of efforts, and ability to support producer readiness to accept SNAP and HIP benefits. In the program’s first four rounds, the Administration awarded over $17.7 million to more than 137 recipients.
The Administration also announced the COVID-19 Command Center’s new food program for isolating and quarantining individuals in collaboration with local boards of health and the Community Tracing Collaborative (CTC), which invests nearly $1.2 million to support residents in isolation. Communities across the Commonwealth have developed innovative, local solutions to support families who are dealing with the direct impacts of COVID-19, for which access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food is crucial. For a portion of low-income households, and in certain geographic areas, food security remains a top concern while isolating. This new program will be coordinated with local health departments, the CTC, food pantries, municipalities, and other local partners to assess needs and gaps in service at the individual and community level, and develop and deploy local solutions to ensure the foods security needs of those isolating and quarantining can be met.