BOSTON — Today, the Healey-Driscoll Administration announced an award of nearly $250,000 in Local Food Policy Council program funding to 17 organizations across Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ (MDAR) grants will enhance the work of existing and new local food policy councils and food working groups across Massachusetts. The grants will help to accelerate their development, expand their capacity, and increase their connections and opportunities for peer-to-peer learning to support the Massachusetts local food system.
“Massachusetts’ local food policy councils and food working groups are vital to the fabric of our food system and help connect communities to healthy, nutritious foods. We are happy to recognize and invest in this important work,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “This support is critical, especially as our local food system weathers an increasingly volatile climate.”
“We greatly appreciate this appropriation from our partners in the state legislature to provide these grants to our Massachusetts local food policy councils and food working groups,” said MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle. “Projects and initiatives funded through this program will develop and continue work to impact the long-term viability and sustainability of our local food system in Massachusetts.”
“Adequately addressing issues of food insecurity in our communities is crucial to moving forward as a Commonwealth without leaving anyone behind,” said Senator Lydia Edwards (D – East Boston). “I am grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for making sure our local food policy councils have the necessary funding to amplify our working ensuring all residents can go to bed without feeling hungry.”
“The work of our local food policy councils, to promote the farming and sale of Massachusetts-grown foods, and the accessibility of fresh, nutritious foods is indispensable to the Commonwealth,” said Senator Edward J. Kennedy (D – Lowell). “I am proud to be a member of a legislative body that understands the importance of local food systems and invests in their resilience.”
The following are the grant recipients for 2023:
Boston Food Access Council – Boston, MA: $10,000.00
The Boston Food Access Council will support the organization’s development following its relaunch as an independent organization. They will implement and evaluate the new vision. Facilitated community session discussions will generate a network hub to increase collaboration and coordination among stakeholders, experts, and community members to build capacity to address food insecurity. The sessions will increase membership, focusing on reaching members from under-represented and underserved communities while increasing partnerships with new stakeholders. Work will continue on a stakeholder network map.
Cambridge Food and Fitness Council – Cambridge, MA: $19,979.97
The Cambridge Food and Fitness Council will support capacity-building and strategic planning to engage more directly with the local Massachusetts food system—specifically through the Cambridge Food Pantry Network and SNAP Match Coalition program for Cambridge farmers markets. Funds will be used to develop a strategic plan for the SNAP Match Coalition to leverage funds and increase Cambridge’s SNAP Match access at Cambridge farmers markets; and conduct research among food pantry managers to better understand patron cultural preferences and pantry internal food purchasing systems to meet those preferences with Massachusetts local farm products.
Cape Cod Cooperative Extension – Barnstable, MA: $20,000.00
Cape Cod Cooperative Extension will create a local food equity action plan and food systems map for Cape Cod. Funding will support a strategic planning consultant and a technology consultant working with local food producers, distributors, and stakeholders, including those in agriculture, aquaculture, fishing industries, food diversion, food pantries, and meal sites, non-profit organizations, and businesses. The consultants, through in-person and virtual focus groups, will develop a feasibility study specifically for the region to address local food security barriers, environmental justice areas, climate change, and environmental impacts. The result will be a more streamlined distribution to keep food local, increased capacity, and greater food access.
City of Everett – Everett, MA: $17,991.00
The Everett Food Policy Council will update and implement its 2018 Community Food Plan. Working groups will prioritize policy, program actions, and revisions based on changes since the Plan was written. A project manager will be hired. Funding will also support a new website, social media campaign, sign-up form, and print and advertising campaign in at least three languages. Meetings will be held in a physically accessible space with translation and video conferencing. Outcomes will include determining priority actions for 2023, increasing awareness of food issues within the community, building trust with community members, collaborating with other Everett organizations, and additional participation and diversification of the Council.
City of Lynn – Lynn, MA: $8,000
The Lynn Food Security Task Force will coordinate a Community Food Assessment, focusing on capacity building for the organization, resident engagement, and administrative support to better understand and evaluate food security within the local food system. A contractor will be hired to conduct the Assessment to provide impactful food-related goals and priorities rooted in data. They will facilitate making connections to the local food system by city residents and government and identifying and implementing effective monitoring systems, benchmarks, and indicators to be responsive to food-security issues.
Hampshire County Food Policy Council, Northampton, MA: $19,999
The Hampshire County Food Policy Council will coordinate training for the sustainability of the Council with a focus on building the capacity of marginalized community members to take a systemic, holistic approach to feed people and working in sectors throughout the food system. Sociocracy for All, a nonprofit organization, will be hired to help the Council train new and emerging leaders, provide digital tools and resources, and ensure the basic knowledge and understanding community members need. The process will be accessible to people with middle-to-high school levels of educational attainment and learning differences. Funds will support training to build the collaborative working capacity of the Council and its long-term sustainability.
Hilltown CDC – Chesterfield, MA: $9,368
The Hilltown CDC will create a farmer/food producer working circle to discuss distribution, production, and environmental issues negatively affecting the local food system and identify strategies to address the conditions. Hilltown farmers represent a hard-to-reach population whose voice is critical to identify food system priorities. Meetings will provide a platform for agricultural producers’ voices to be shared with the Hampshire County Food Policy Council as food system priorities are developed. Funds will be used for meeting coordination, facilitation, and farmer stipends. This project has support from the Hampshire County Food Policy Council.
Holyoke Food Economy Coalition – Holyoke, MA: $8,000
The Holyoke Food Economy Coalition works to address food insecurity, including the support of local food businesses and food entrepreneurs to create jobs and improve wages in food and farming. Funds will be used to support the Local Serve Food Commercial Kitchen in Holyoke through stipends to offset the cost of memberships in the commercial facility. The Kitchen works with Nueva Esperanza, a community organization that focuses on the culinary preferences and needs of the Puerto Rican and Afro-Caribbean communities. The Holyoke Community College culinary program is also a partner. Community organizations help entrepreneurs succeed and support culturally relevant food offerings.
Just Roots – Greenfield, MA: $12,399.75
The Franklin County Food Council will conduct an analysis of their current food policy assets, strengths, gaps, and priorities within current membership through facilitated monthly meetings with a focus on capacity building and bringing a more diverse group of stakeholders to the table while re-engaging current members. A broad and inclusive outreach campaign will be conducted to add new members focusing on marginalized community members. Outcomes will include a 12-month Plan of Action, a framework for decision-making, and established methods for communication for advocacy collaboration. Funds support meeting facilitation, meeting costs, and contractors to assist with outreach, meeting outcomes, and developing the Plan.
MetroWest Food Collaborative – Hudson, MA: $18,000
The MetroWest Food Collaborative will increase its operational capacity, expand its community engagement efforts, increase training on the local food system, increase advocacy to promote food justice and identify gaps in services. Engagement will include community members, local farms, and food vendors in developing effective policies and programs to strengthen the local and regional food system. Funds will be used for a part-time coordinator, training, and equipment to coordinate meetings and improve access and supplies.
Mill City Grows – Lowell, MA: $20,000
The Lowell Food Policy Council includes community members who have historically been underserved and underrepresented. This grant will help shape the decision-making process from a grassroots perspective so that the community is the guiding force behind change. Funding will be used to will hire consultants to train the council members on local food policies and conditions that affect food security and work with community partners to address food insecurity in Environmental Justice communities, promote wellness, and focus on communities at higher risk of chronic illness. An administrative framework will be developed to support the Council, including priorities for 2023 and beyond including public outreach and engagement.
Mystic Valley YMCA – Malden, MA: $7,669
The Medford Food Justice Council was recently formed to organize residents and advocates to continue the Food Security Taskforce’s initiatives and work on availability, accessibility, and affordability in the local food system. Funds will be used to supplement existing funds to address these topics, including additional hours for the Council coordinator and equipment for remote participation. The Council will prioritize a focus on raising awareness of food insecurity and reducing stigma, removing systemic barriers to food security, and improving access to the food assistance system.
Salem Food for All – Salem, MA: $18,000
Salem Food for All will hire consultants to develop their strategies and priorities and facilitate community engagement to build on existing work in the community. They will strengthen their capacity as a formal food policy council to provide city leaders with information and recommendations to utilize city resources best to support the local food system. The consultants will help the Council (re)define member roles, prioritize goals, and develop a strategic plan, timeline, and community engagement strategy. The Council will also promote a recent Urban Agriculture Ordinance Amendment with low-income and Latino communities to support food security.
Somerville Food Security Coalition – Somerville, MA: $17,955
The Somerville Food Security Coalition will be restructured for more equitable nutrition/food security and to support a shift in Coalition leadership and decision-making to the community better to reflect the needs and priorities of marginalized populations. The project will identify the voices of those who are working closely with anti-hunger programs, create a strong organizational foundation that is built on equity and designed for resilience and sustainability, and increase the Coalition’s capacity to reach, support, connect and collaborate with people and organizations across the food system. Funds will be used to support the activities needed for food system stakeholder engagement and for service providers to meet and deliberate on the structure and function of the Coalition going forward.
South Berkshire Rural Health Network – Great Barrington, MA: $11,820
The Food Access Working Group of South Berkshire County will develop a strategic plan and improve connections to the region’s most vulnerable residents. The capacity of the group’s coordinator will be supported by funding for increased time and consultant support. Outcomes will include the development of a Plan that addresses system change, increased capacity of the coordinator to facilitate ongoing strategic planning, equity as a vital component of the work, and the strengthening of collaborative relationships among partners through formal and informal structures to build a healthy food network and sustainable local system.
South Coast Food Policy Council – Marion, MA: $18,000
The South Coast Food Policy Council will develop a coordinated, multi-year, layered “Food System Education Campaign.” Much of the Council’s collective work hinges on the ability to engage and educate the diverse communities and constituents about the importance of a regional food system, so they participate more fully. Groups include but are not limited to Spanish, Portuguese, and Cape Verdean Creole-speaking community members, low-income residents to access the Healthy Incentives Program and advocacy more fully, and middle and high-income earners to embrace the health, environmental, and economic benefits of buying local food. Funds will be used to support the Council’s staff capacity to develop and launch the educational campaign and related costs.
Town of Ware – Ware, MA: $11,970
The Town of Ware will create the Quaboag Valley Region Food Policy Council. A coordinator and a subcontractor will be hired to plan and host a series of goalsetting meetings and strategy planning sessions. Local organizations, farmers, businesses, food pantries, and community members to engage will be identified. Operating processes and organizational structures will be developed. Engaging community members and organizations in the Council, including local farmers, food consumers, and distributors, to establish partnerships and pathways for increased food access for the Quaboag region is a priority. This is the first initiative to bring these diverse groups together, including underserved and underrepresented individuals in western and central Massachusetts.
–Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources