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Massachusetts Take Action! Ensure an equitable food system recovery

Massachusetts Action Alert:

This week the Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Committee is drafting their version of the spending bill that will determine how federal Covid relief dollars will be spent in Massachusetts. We believe that the House bill could be improved upon so that relief funds do more to support our hard-hit food and farming industry.

See what we, as part of a broad coalition, are advocating for in Massachusetts to build a better, more resilient and more equitable food system. Then, please reach out to the Senate ways and means committee members, your local elected officials, and anyone else who will listen to urge them to allocate funds for our hard-hit economy!

Read the full post, ARPA Funding for an Equitable Massachusetts Food Economy, or an excerpt:

The influx of Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds offers an unprecedented opportunity to not only stem this troubling tide, but actually repair long entrenched structural challenges in our industrialized food economy. A strategic investment combined with coordinated policy change has the potential to not only reinvigorate our hard-hit industry, but fundamentally shift our supply chain toward a just, equitable, resilient model that is becoming ever more urgent in the face of climate change.

We call on Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito and all of our elected officials and government leaders to take bold and immediate action toward ensuring an equitable food recovery by investing in the following priorities:

Restaurant & Food Industry Recovery Fund: $75M

Grants of $50k-75k to independent restaurants and retail food operations, with at least 75% allocated to BIPOC-owned businesses and/or those located in low-income census tracts.

Food industry technical assistance fund: $10M

Funding for customized technical assistance to work with restaurants, cafes, food trucks, farms, processors, and related businesses to guide them through the recovery process, as a core companion of the Restaurant and Food Industry Recovery Fund

Restaurant Meals Initiative: $30M

Funding to pay restaurants, caterers, food trucks and related small and independent food businesses to provide free meals to families in need, with funds prioritized to businesses located in Gateway Cities and those located in low-income census tracts, modeled after efforts run by groups like Groundwork Lawrence, CommonWealth Kitchen, Project Restore Us, Off Their Plates, and World Central Kitchen.

Regional and Statewide food system plans: $3M

Grant funding to complete a comprehensive audit of the State’s food infrastructure to identity gaps, surplus capacity, opportunities for improved collaboration, and priorities for future investment, assessing the entirety of the supply chain, from farm to processor to distributor. Included in this work should be recommendations for adjustments in public procurement to prioritize local, diverse, and sustainable sourcing, improved coordination and a detailed implementation plan.

Food systems capital fund (beyond short-term food security, and on long-term sustainability)$80M

Capital grants to strengthen infrastructure beyond emergency needs. Funds should be prioritized for projects that support land acquisition for farming and related industries, shared-use kitchens, fresh food grocers and farmers’ markets in underserved communities, value-added processing that focuses on farms and diverse producers, food aggregation and distribution, and production facilities and equipment.

Good Food Purchasing Policy Implementation: $2M

Grant funding to implement a Statewide Good Food Purchasing Policy for all public procurement of food in K-12 schools, public colleges and hospitals, senior programs, prisons, and public buildings, tying procurement dollars toward efforts that prioritize local sourcing, local and diverse businesses, public health, valued workforce, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability.

Total: $200M

With this type of bold, comprehensive investment, we truly can build a just, equitable resilient food economy where all of us can participate and prosper.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Respectfully,

Boston Area Gleaners, Usha Thakrar, Eastern Massachusetts

CityFresh Foods, Sheldon Lloyd, Greater Boston

CommonWealth Kitchen, Jen Faigel, Greater Boston

Farm to Institution New England, Peter Allison, Statewide

The Food Project, Anne Hayes, Eastern Massachusetts

Foundation for Business Equity, Glynn Lloyd, Eastern Massachusetts

Groundwork Lawrence, Heather McMann, Essex County

Healthcare without Harm, Statewide

Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, Steve Grossman, Statewide

Island Grown Initiative, Rebecca Haag, Martha’s Vineyard

Land for Good, Jim Hafner, Statewide

Lawrence Partnership, George Ramirez, Lawrence

La Colaborativa, Gladys Vega, Chelsea

LEAF Fund, Gerardo Espinoza, Statewide

Marion Institute, Liz Wiley, South Coast

Massachusetts Coalition for Local Food and Farms, State-wide

Massachusetts Farm to School Coalition, Simca Horwitz, State-wide

Massachusetts Food Policy Collaborative, Winton Pitcoff, Statewide

Massachusetts Restaurants United, Nancy Caswell, Statewide

Mill City Grows, Lowell/Essex County

New Entry Sustainable Farming, Jennifer Hashley, State-wide

Nuestras Raices, Holyoke

Red’s Best, Jared Auerbach, Boston/State-wide

Revere Food Hub, Dimple Rana, Revere

Southeastern Mass. Agricultural Partnership, Bristol/Plymouth/Barnstable counties

Springfield Food Policy Council, Liz Ogilvie, Springfield

Sustainable Business Network, Laury Hammel, Eastern Massachusetts

The Carrot Project, Statewide

UTEC, Greg Croteau, Lowell/Essex County

Urban Farming Institute, Pat Spence, Boston

Worcester Regional Food Hub, Shon Rainford, Worcester

World Farmers, Maria Moreira, Worcester County

Western Mass. Food Processing Center, John Waite, Franklin County

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