The Baker-Polito Administration announced $22.5 million in funding to food producers across the Commonwealth, including Grow in Revere, Food Hub with $99,734. This program represents ongoing efforts to address food insecurity issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. During an event at the Worcester Regional Food Hub, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, and Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux joined with U.S. Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Jim McGovern to announce the funding of 147 total projects through the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program. Grants from the program, which was created to ensure individuals and families have equitable access to healthy, local food products, will directly benefit people in every region of the state.
â€œThrough the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, our Administration has been able to foster stronger partnerships with foodbanks, pantries, farms and other organizations throughout the Commonwealth to meet the demand of so many living with food insecurity,â€ said Governor Charlie Baker. â€œImportantly, this $22.5 million in funding will go towards impactful projects that will increase operations of our food producers and suppliers and better serve the individuals who truly need their assistance.â€
â€œEnsuring children, their families, and all individuals have access to healthy, local food products is critical, particularly as so many continue to be detrimentally impacted by the pandemic,â€ said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. â€œOur Administration is proud to work so closely with the Commonwealthâ€™s farmers, food distributors, non-profit organizations, and others as we partner to strengthen the stateâ€™s food supply chains.â€
â€œThe Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program has become a catalyst for the Baker-Polito Administration in our efforts to make a more resilient food supply system,â€ said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. â€œSince the programâ€™s inception during the early months of the COVID-19 public health emergency, we have funded over 507 projects throughout Massachusetts, greatly aiding those in need.â€
The Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program seeks to ensure local food producers are better connected to a robust and resilient food supply system in order to mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption issues. This yearâ€™s recipients of grant funding represent a variety of sectors, including farms, fisheries, schools, nonprofits, for profits, food pantries, municipalities, distributors/suppliers, and other entities. Additionally, during the event, US Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Jim McGovern announced $3 million in federal funds for the Worcester Regional Food Hubâ€™s new facility at Union Station.
â€œThe Worcester Regional Food Hub plays a critical role in addressing food insecurity in Massachusetts,â€ said Senator Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts). â€œI am proud to have helped secure $3 million in federal funding for the remodeling of the lower-level of Union Station to become the Foods Hubâ€™s new permanent location. Worcester is the heart of the Commonwealth and Union Station is the heart of Worcester, making it the perfect location for this integral piece in the regional food system in central Massachusetts.â€
â€œThis is a huge day for Worcester. The $3,000,000 investment that Senator Markey and I secured for the Worcester Regional Food Hub is going to kick this project into high gearâ€”bringing local farmers, entrepreneurs, and community partners together to bolster a more robust food system, promote healthy eating, strengthen sustainable agriculture, and fuel economic development throughout the region,â€ said Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts). â€œIn addition to the $1,000,000 in funding I helped secure for the Food Hub in the American Rescue Plan, and the major statewide investments being announced today by Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, I am confident that we are building a more just, healthy, and sustainable commonwealth.â€
The Baker-Polito Administration announced the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program in May 2020 as part of a $56 million investment to combat urgent food insecurity for many Massachusetts families and individuals as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program implements the recommendations of the Food Security Task Force, comprised of public and private members charged with ensuring food insecurity and food supply needs are addressed during the COVID-19 public health emergency, which was convened by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center in response to increased demands for food assistance.
â€œThe Baker-Polito Administrationâ€™s unprecedented commitment to building a more resilient, sustainable food system has helped Massachusetts agriculture invest in long-term and impactful solutions to address food security for our consumers,â€ said Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux.â€œWith the latest round of funding for the Food Security Infrastructure Grant program, farms and producers will be able to update aging infrastructure while making improvements for their businesses to help ensure more residents have access to local, fresh products.â€
â€œWhen the Food Security Task Force first conceived of the FSIG program, there was a nation-wide protein shortage, spiking food insecurity rates, and significant supply chain disruptions,â€ said State Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). â€œNow, almost two years later, the Commonwealthâ€™s food system infrastructure has been strengthened permanently, thanks in large part to FSIG grants. Because of FSIG investment in food system infrastructure, the Commonwealth will be able to produce and distribute more food, feed more people, and fight hunger and food insecurity now and for years to come. I thank my colleagues in the legislature for their steadfast commitment to funding this program and to fighting food insecurity and I offer heartfelt thanks to everyone at EEA and MDAR who work every day to make this program more and more successful.â€
â€œFood insecurity is a complex problem existing at the nexus of economic opportunity, transportation, regional planning, environmental sustainability, and of course, COVID-19,â€ said State Senator Becca Rausch (D-Needham). â€œFar too many Bay Staters are struggling to keep food on the table through these difficult economic times. As my colleagues and I continue to assist constituents with food access, it is critical that we also work systemically and equitably to bolster our Commonwealthâ€™s food supply chains to promote the well-being of Massachusettsâ€™ children and families.â€
â€œThe Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program is a tremendously valuable investment in our local food system and a critical component in increasing the supply of healthy food to our residents in need,â€ said State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury). â€œWhile the Program was developed in response to the initial urgent challenges of lack of access and supply of food during the pandemic, the overwhelming, ongoing demand and measurable impact clearly illustrates the necessity of continued funding. I am grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their strong partnership in addressing food insecurity and supporting local producers.â€
â€œThe Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program is a great investment by the Commonwealth in cities and towns facing food insecurity like Worcester,â€ said Worcester Regional Food Hub Director Shon Rainford. â€œThe capital grant we received from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs will help tremendously in advancing this important opportunity to connect Worcester families with accessible, local, and healthy food by bringing together the regionâ€™s food hub with the regionâ€™s transportation hub.â€
In the first year of the program, awardees have been able to make local, fresh food production more efficient and accessible, lower the production cost, and increase distributors’ ability to partner with SNAP, EBT, and other organizations.