(TNS) — The administration of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday announced $3.3 million in grants to address food insecurity residents have faced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the second round of a $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program.
That program was created following recommendations from the administration’s COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force, promoting efforts to make sure individuals and families have access to healthy, local food. The program also seeks to ensure farmers, fishermen and other local food producers are better connected to a resilient food system to help mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption, Baker’s office said in a statement.
“Massachusetts is lucky to have a rich and diverse supply of local food, but too many families and residents continue to struggle with hunger and food insecurity during this public health emergency,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Our administration is pleased to invest in our local producers and businesses through this grant program to help expand the distribution of healthy, fresh food throughout the Commonwealth.”
The grants, totaling $3,324,349, include 34 awards to fund investments in technology, equipment, increased capacity, and other assistance to help producers distribute food, especially to food-insecure communities, the statement said. Some of the awardees include the Wellspring Harvest in Springfield, United Way of Tri-County in Framingham, Queen’s Greens in Amherst, the Northborough Public Schools and Red’s Best in Boston.
In evaluating applications, officials considered equity, economic impact and need, sustainability and scalability of efforts, and ability to support producer readiness to accept SNAP and HIP benefits, according to the statement.
The first round of grants totaled $2,941,838, which were awarded last month to 26 recipients.
“Increasing access to fresh, local food is critical to ensure the health and wellbeing of all Commonwealth families,” Baker said in the statement. “Through this grant program, we are helping residents and businesses who’ve been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic while making investments in building a strong and equitable local food system for Massachusetts that is prepared for the future.”
Applications will continue to be evaluated through Sept. 15. Those eligible include entities that are part of the Massachusetts local food system including production, processing and distribution, the emergency food distribution network, Buy Local, community and food organizations, school meal programming, urban farms and community gardens, non-profits, and organizations that provide business planning, technical assistance and information technology services, the statement said.
“Every individual, family and community in the Commonwealth should have access to nutritious food, and the Command Center’s Food Security Task Force has been working to address the increase in food insecurity for families as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said COVID-19 Response Command Center Director and Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “These grants support increased access to nutritious food in all corners of the Commonwealth and strengthen the food supply chain beyond the pandemic.”
The Food Insecurity Infrastructure Grant Program was announced in May as part of a $56 million investment by the administration to combat urgent food insecurity for some Massachusetts families and individuals as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
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