BOSTON — Working to combat against food insecurity throughout the Commonwealth, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced the availability of $28.5 million in funding for the FY24 Food Security Infrastructure Grant (FSIG) Program. This funding will allow the Commonwealth to ensure equitable access to healthy, locally-produced food for individuals and families throughout the state. In order to best support applicants within the state’s local food production and distribution system, the FSIG Program administrators will be hosting two virtual question and answer sessions on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, from 1:00PM to 3:00PM and Thursday, January 5, 2023, from 4:00PM to 6:00PM to answer potential applicant questions related to project ideas, as well as hear any feedback in response to previous rounds. Following these sessions, a Request for Responses (RFR) will be issued, seeking proposals from stakeholders.
Additionally, the Baker-Polito Administration is awarding $7,260,000 in Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA) grants to 16 organizations across the Commonwealth. The grants, which are funded through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and administered by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), seek to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency through the purchase of domestic food from local and regional producers, by targeting purchases from socially disadvantaged farmers and producers, and the distribution to underserved communities.
“While the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program was created as part of our Administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, through this next $28.5 million, we will be able to continue to utilize this important initiative to ensure access to healthy, locally produced food for all residents throughout the state,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The $7.2 million that we are awarding through the Local Food Purchase Assistance Program will further our efforts to invest in the Commonwealth’s food supply chain, creating a stronger and more resilient food system.”
“Food insecurity continues to be a significant issue throughout the Commonwealth and it is important that we continue to ensure programs across the state are being provided the resources they need to meet the demand that they are receiving,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Our Administration is proud to announce this new funding to further the critical work of ensuring greater access to healthy, locally produced food for all residents.”
The FSIG Program was created to provide grants for capital infrastructure investments that increase access to locally produced food for families and individuals throughout the state who may be facing food insecurity, live in gateway cities or food deserts, or who otherwise face unequal access to food. Additionally, FSIG works to mitigate future supply and distribution issues by partnering with local fishermen, farmers, and other producers to create a strong and resilient food system. The Administration initially announced the program in May 2020 and has since awarded $63 million to 507 organizations throughout Massachusetts.
“The accomplishments from the first two years of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program have shown how critical this funding is to strengthen the Commonwealth’s food supply system and prevent future disruptions from coming,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “Through FSIG and other important initiatives like the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program, we will continue to make great strides in ensuring everyone throughout Massachusetts has great access to healthy, locally grown products to enjoy.”
Furthermore, the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program seeks to maintain and improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency by working directly with socially disadvantaged farmers and producers to give food to underserved communities. Importantly, the food will meet the needs of the local and regional populations and serve feeding programs, including food banks, schools, and organizations that reach underserved communities. In addition to increasing local food consumption, funds will help build and expand economic opportunities for local and socially disadvantaged producers.
“The Baker-Polito Administration greatly appreciates the partnership with the USDA to provide these Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement grants to our Massachusetts farmers and agricultural organizations to purchase local food from our historically underserved farmers, as well as to distribute the food at no cost to our underserved communities,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “We are excited to be able to provide over $7 million in funds to 16 organizations that will greatly assist with the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts.”
The following are the grant recipients for 2023:
Berkshire Grown – Great Barrington, MA
- Berkshire Grown will strengthen purchasing relationships with socially disadvantaged farmers through their Berkshire Farm to Food Access Partnership Program to distribute to new and existing food sites. Berkshire Grown plans to establish an online ordering system, update purchasing contracts, expand the selection of local food and farm products, recruit volunteers for food delivery, prepare food storage locations, and finally distribute the food and farm products to underserved communities.
Boston Area Gleaners – Waltham, MA
- Boston Area Gleaners aims to apply current best practices to targeted communities of socially disadvantaged and/or small growers and underserved consumers. Boston Area Gleaners will: determine which farmers within their network self-identify as socially disadvantaged and/or small; purchase crops from these growers through formal production contracts; support these growers in capacity building and wholesale market readiness; and donate the contract-grown fresh produce through their partner hunger-relief agencies.
Cape Cod Cooperative Extension – Barnstable, MA
- The Cape Cod Cooperative Extension Food Access Program developed a multi-faceted initiative to support the critical food access needs of its disadvantaged populations throughout Cape Cod by: purchasing produce from local and regional farmers with an emphasis on socially disadvantaged growers in collaboration with Cape Abilities Farm; supporting the Cape Cod fishing industry by purchasing locally caught and processed haddock chowder and fish stew from Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance that will be available, at no cost, to socially underserved communities on Cape Cod through a strategically designed network of distribution channels; and strengthening the existing network of growers, food producers, social service organizations, underserved communities, and local volunteers to maintain a sustainable food access system.
Coastal Foodshed – New Bedford, MA
- Coastal Foodshed will work through their existing network of more than 65 local farmers and local food entrepreneurs to purchase local meats, eggs, dairy, and pantry items to distribute free of charge at farmers market and mobile farm stand locations to increase awareness of, and foot traffic to, Coastal Foodshed’s locations. Through a robust marketing campaign, and the distribution of items free of charge, they plan to increase foot traffic to Coastal Foodshed’s locations where new customers will also have the opportunity to purchase other local foods and learn about the Healthy Incentives Program.
Eastern Woodlands Rematriation – Hull, MA
- The overarching goal of Eastern Woodlands Rematriation’s project is to strengthen and fortify indigenous foodways of New England. Through regional intertribal food hubs, this project will scale existing efforts of Eastern Woodlands Rematriation and enable tribal families, and disadvantaged individuals and communities throughout the Commonwealth to access fresh, nutritional and culturally relevant foods and products without worry of affordability and accessibility.
Eastie Farm – East Boston, MA
- Eastie Farm will purchase local produce from farms primarily within 100 miles of Boston to create free weekly produce boxes for residents of East Boston, with an emphasis on subsidized housing communities and the underserved Orient Heights part of the neighborhood. The boxes will be primarily available during the harvest season, projected to be from May to November of 2023. The distribution will be accomplished through collaboration with the Orient Heights BHA benefits team, the Victory Gardens building management, Maverick Landing Community Services, and Grace Federated Food Pantry.
Greater Boston Food Bank – Boston, MA
- Greater Boston Food Bank will purchase seafood from seafood producers and distributors in Massachusetts. With a greater capacity to purchase seafood, they will support the needs of two important constituencies in the Commonwealth—those who are seeking hunger relief along with local fish producers and distributors. Through the purchase of 150,000–200,000 pounds of seafood, they will greatly increase the amount of seafood distributed through their network of 600 partnering agencies located in 190 communities in Eastern Massachusetts. This network includes food pantries, meal programs, homeless shelters, and other human services agencies. Seafood distributions will benefit diverse populations including adults, children, seniors, veterans, community health center patients, and students.
Grow Food Northampton – Florence, MA
- Grow Food Northampton will partner with local community-owned food cooperative River Valley Co-op to provide technical support to socially disadvantaged local producers and purchase products from them for distribution through their established programs, Community Food Distribution Project and Food For All, respectively, to low-income, food insecure households throughout the Northampton area.
Growing Places – Leominster, MA
- Growing Places will implement the Local Food Works Fresh Box program, which will strengthen agricultural supply chain resiliency in the 27 communities of North Central MA. Primary goals include: making local food purchasing from small and socially disadvantaged farmers a priority value by connecting farmers, consumers, and buyers; processing local food products for season extension and easy preparation; creating culturally responsible Fresh Boxes with local produce, herbs, dairy, eggs, and value added products for distribution; supporting socially disadvantaged and small farmers; and institutionalizing a cultural food working group to incorporate an equity lens into rebuilding the local food system.
Hilltown CDC – Chesterfield, MA
- Hilltown CDC will grow the “free-share” option currently offered and develop a “free-market” for in person shopping. The approach will not only increase food security for people in the region but will also create viable market opportunities for rural growers.
Just Roots – Greenfield, MA
- Just Roots’ BE-LEAF: Building Equity for Local Eaters and Farmers program will connect local produce and proteins from Just Roots’ community farm and socially disadvantaged producers with members of underserved communities in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties. The two core program components include distribution of 100 free CSA shares and monthly distribution of 30 free DIY Cooking Kits, accompanied by cooking classes. The DIY Cooking Kits will contain local produce, proteins, and all the supplies needed to prepare a healthy meal.
Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA/Mass) – Barre, MA
- NOFA will use funding to provide 150 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares to underserved communities in Boston, Worcester, Springfield, and the Berkshires. This project will establish a new food distribution pathway through community partners embedded within the communities this project seeks to serve. Funding will be used to purchase CSA shares from socially disadvantaged farmers to give to community partners for distribution within their communities.
Pioneer Valley Workers Center – Northampton, MA
- The Pioneer Valley Workers Center’s People’s Pantry (La Despensa del Pueblo) will distribute local and regional produce, dairy, eggs, meat, and other healthy foods to over 9,350 immigrants, low-wage workers, people of color, underserved populations, and anyone else in need. They will partner with Massachusetts-based and regional producers, with an emphasis on supporting socially disadvantaged farmers, to bring farm-fresh food and its positive health benefits to these communities at monthly distribution sites in Hampden and Franklin County. Lastly, they will establish a new center in Turners Falls that will serve as a thriving community resource for food storage, distributions, and other training and events that support food justice and equity for underserved local residents.
Regional Environmental Council – Worcester, MA
- The Regional Environmental Council will coordinate the purchase and distribution of produce grown in Worcester County through partnerships with rural and urban producers and Main South area food pantries including Jeremiah’s Inn, El Buen Samaritano, and Catholic Charities. Produce will be purchased primarily from Dismas Family Farm, a program of Dismas House of Massachusetts, a charitable agency that manages a network of housing and social services that provide an integrated and unique approach to ensure the success of homeless and former prisoners in the Greater Worcester area.
Root NS, Inc. – Salem, MA
- Root NS, Inc. will build on and expand their Community Catering initiative, which was launched during the early days of the pandemic in response to regional food insecurity issues across the North Shore of Massachusetts and has grown through a network of partnerships with local farmers and nonprofit distribution sites. The project will provide employment opportunities to socially disadvantaged young people, who will prepare and deliver the meals made from local produce and ingredients.
World Farmers – Lancaster, MA
- World Farmers’ project will expand sales for over 60 commercial immigrant and refugee farmers in World Farmers’ programs and other farmers of color in their network, while addressing food security and serving communities in environmental justice communities across five counties in Massachusetts. Conducted in partnership with eight community partners, the project goals are to: partner with and support refugee and immigrant farmers and farmers of color in Massachusetts to increase their crops sales through their participation in the LFPA program; and increase access to local, fresh, and culturally important vegetables and proteins for low-income or food impoverished communities.
“FSIG is one of the strongest, most resilient programs to emerge from the pandemic,” said State Senator Jo Comerford (D-Northampton). “This latest round of grants through the LFPA program will bring over $2 million to my district to reduce hunger and to provide more healthy, affordable, locally-grown food to my constituents. The continued funding for FSIG speaks to a shared commitment by the Administration and Legislature to fight food insecurity, tackle diet-related disease, and strengthen our food system — all at the same time.”
“It’s in a farmers DNA to feed people. Massachusetts farmers want to help eliminate hunger and get their local, healthy products into food deserts,” said State Representative Paul Schmid (D-Westport). “These awards and grants from the Baker-Polito team are making a difference all over the Commonwealth.”
“I am grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued investment in, and prioritization of, the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program,” said State Representative Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury). “Not only does this critical program, stood up during the height of COVID, help address the still high levels of food insecurity prevalent in the Commonwealth, it provides tremendous support to our local food system by investing in the food producers who can supply fresh, healthy food and strengthen their own operations.”
“FSIG has been a wonderfully successful program providing funds to individuals and organizations in the Massachusetts food system that help produce and distribute food in the commonwealth,” said State Representative Mindy Domb (D-Amherst), Acting House Chair for the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture. “Since the inception of the FSIG program, the Legislature has appropriated $125,570,000 in funds for its operation, supporting applicants from nearly every municipality. Investing in our food system is essential in order to respond, relieve, and end hunger in the Commonwealth, and also to support and strengthen our commonwealth’s agricultural and seafood economy.”
For more information about the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program, please visit MDAR’s program webpage. Additionally, links to the two FSIG virtual question and answer sessions being hosted in January 2023 will be posted on the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program webpage.
–Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs