BOSTON (Mass.gov) – Continuing its ongoing efforts to support a resilient, secure local food supply chain in Massachusetts, the Baker-Polito Administration Wednesday announced $5.9 million in grants to address urgent food insecurity for residents across the Commonwealth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding is being awarded as part of the fourth round of the new $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following recommendations from the Administration’s COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force, which promotes ongoing efforts to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to healthy, local food.
“As part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to build on our efforts to secure a resilient, diverse local food supply chain so Massachusetts residents maintain access to fresh, healthy food,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With this fourth round of grants, we will have awarded a total of $17.7 million, making critical investments in our local food infrastructure and ensuring a secure supply of food as residents across the Commonwealth adjust to the impacts of this unprecedented public health challenge.”
“Families throughout Massachusetts, especially those living in underserved communities, will continue to receive better access to healthy, local food through the investments made through this important program,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “These projects will ensure a strong, resilient supply of local food while delivering health and economic benefits to communities across the Commonwealth.”
The goal of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program is to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have equitable access to food, especially local food. The program also seeks to ensure that farmers, fishermen and other local food producers are better connected to a strong, resilient food system to help mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption.
The fourth round of the grant program includes 47 awards for a total of $5,895,554 to fund critical investments in technology, equipment, capacity, and other assistance to help local food producers, especially in the distribution of food insecure communities. When evaluating the applications, considerations included equity, economic impact and need, sustainability and scalability of efforts, and ability to support producer readiness to accept SNAP and HIP benefits. In the program’s first three rounds, the Administration awarded over $11.7 to more than 90 recipients.
“Food insecurity remains a significant challenge for families throughout the Commonwealth during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These projects address critical gaps within Massachusetts’ local food system, and this significant investment will help our local farmers, fishermen, food banks, and distribution networks continue their essential work producing a steady supply of healthy, nutritious food to communities and underserved neighborhoods.”
“The continued work of the Food Security Task Force under the COVID-19 Command Center has built out the food security infrastructure in the Commonwealth, connecting families and individuals with critical food resources during the pandemic,” said COVID-19 Response Command Center Director and Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders. “This round of grants supports local organizations that help meet Massachusetts’ residents needs where they are, including supporting organizations that participate in existing nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC that help residents with limited income access healthy food.”
Eligible grantees 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 Request for Responses for project proposals closed on September 15, 2020. Applications submitted before the proposal deadline will continue to be evaluated for future rounds of funding.
This grant program implements the recommendations of the Food Security Task Force, which was convened by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Command Center in response to increased demands for food assistance. The task force is composed of a broad group of public and private members charged with ensuring food insecurity and food supply needs are addressed during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Food Insecurity Infrastructure Grant Program was announced in May 2020 as part of a $56 million investment by the Baker-Polito Administration to combat urgent food insecurity for some Massachusetts families and individuals as a result of COVID-19. The Administration also announced a $5 million increase for the Healthy Incentives Program to meet increased demand for local produce and to increase access points that process SNAP and HIP benefits, $12 million for the provision of 25,000 family food boxes per week through a regional food supply system, and $3 million in funding as an immediate relief valve to food banks.
Several new HIP vendors are receiving funding through this round of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program to purchase new equipment to process SNAP and HIP benefits. Back Azimuth Farm, in Middleborough, is a veteran-owned farm that sells at farmers’ markets and donates unsold products to their local food pantry. As a new HIP vendor, they will create new farmers market opportunities at VA hospitals in line with the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and Department of Veteran Services’ veteran outreach initiative. All Farmers will bring HIP to West Springfield for the first time. The organization represents a broad network of refugee and immigrant farmers who will be selling to their own community members and are able to service clients in Nepali, Maai Maai, and Kiswahili.
In August, the Baker-Polito Administration launched the MassGrown Exchange, an online platform designed to facilitate business-to-business connections within the local food system for products and services. Developed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), in collaboration with the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), this platform was established to both address COVID-19 disruptions to the local food supply and to serve as a helpful tool and resource for Massachusetts growers and producers in accessing markets beyond the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.
“Challenges to our food supply from the COVID-19 pandemic have given us a powerful reminder of just how important it is to have local fishing and farming, and organizations to get food to those at risk of hunger. What’s more, the pandemic has brought into sharp focus the opportunities we have to help them grow and innovate,” said Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr. “These grants will give recipients the strength they need now, and the chance to develop into even greater resources in the future for the people of our state.”
“Compared to 2019, Cape & Island families are experiencing a 70% spike in food insecurity compared to last year. Our aquaculturists, fishermen, farmers, and food pantry workers have banded together to meet this harrowing moment,” said Senator Julian Cyr. “I’m grateful for the support they are receiving from the Commonwealth to continue ensuring that every family on Cape Cod and the Islands knows where their next meal comes from.”
“These grants are a great first step toward strengthening our ability to deliver food from the harvesters, our fishermen and farmers for delivery to the consumers,” said Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante. “I am particularly pleased that in this first round, preference was also given to food pantries which have been so important in ensuring food security for our most vulnerable. I look forward to watching the Commonwealth’s investment and growth in our food supply chain.”
“This grant will support the efforts of the Wellfleet Shellfish company to expand operational function from a seafood distributor to a vertically-integrated seafood production facility. This effort supplies nutritious food to the hungry and supports the shellfish industry. It is a win-win program and a tremendous help for Cape Codders,” said Representative Sarah Peake. “I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their support of this program, and say hats off to the Wellfleet Shellfish Company for their ingenuity and generosity in creating this program.”
The awardees for the fourth round of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program include:
|Chris Farm Stand||Bradford||Chris Farm Stand will purchase software and equipment to be able to process SNAP payments.||$1,158|
|Hartsbrook School – Farm and CSA||Hadley||Hatsbrook School, Farm and CSA, will purchase farm equipment to continue producing food on campus for distribution to the local food banks and other organizations.||$12,137|
|Davidian’s Farm Project||Northborough||Davidian’s Farm will purchase farming and packaging equipment to better expand their crop variety and improve their ability to package and distribute food to address food insecurity, including their partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank as well as local pantries.||$249,694|
|Daniel’s Table||Framingham||Daniel’s Table will purchase a delivery vehicle, a refrigerated food van, as well as kitchen equipment to address food insecurity through their Womb to 5 Program that assists expectant mothers and their families.||$120,207|
|Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, Inc.||Holyoke||The Boys & Girls Club will renovate building with new kitchen equipment in order to create a centralized food hub for youth.||$500,000|
|Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield||Westfield||The Boys & Girls Club will convert its kitchen into a commercial kitchen in order to expand meal production capacity.||$134,177|
|Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center||Gardner||The Veterans Outreach Center will replace shelving units in its food pantry in order to increase food storage capacity and create safer working conditions.||$8,241|
|J&K’s Good Thyme Farm||Ashburnham||J&K’s Good Thyme Farm will purchase a commercial cooler and freezer for the farm stand which will expand offerings of perishable items.||$8,022|
|Sunderland Farm Collaborative||Sunderland||Sunderland Farm Collaborative will purchase two refrigerated vehicles, a building expansion to increase storage space, construction of a new warehouse, and the purchase of refrigeration equipment in order to expand food storage and delivery capacity for the farm.||$318,328|
|Salem Public Schools||Salem||Salem Public Schools will purchase a food delivery van in order to deliver food to delivery sites and student homes.||$104,954|
|Stony Hill Farm, LLC.||Wilbraham||Stony Hill Farm will construct a farm stand and display cooler to replace tent.||$30,459|
|The Open Door||Gloucester||The Open Door will develop and implement an online ordering and delivery system, expand storage to increase choice of meals as well as store locally produced food, and expand their Mobile Market program to be able to reach more areas throughout the community.||$201,073|
|They Keep Bees||Montague||They Keep Bees will develop a mobile honey processing kitchen in order to facilitate honey processing in the field and increase capacity.||$10,054|
|Back Azimuth Farm||Middleborough||Back Azimuth Farm will purchase SNAP processing equipment.||$1,159|
|Pioneer Valley Milk Marketing Cooperative||Greenfield||The Cooperative will purchase a milk tanker truck to haul milk to MA-based milk-processing plant, 2 refrigerated trucks to deliver products to stores, raw milk container for the expanded processing, and associated equipment for milk processing and delivery.||$373,518|
|Citizens Inn||Peabody||Citizens Inn, merged with Haven from Hunger, will renovate their facility to increase storage capacity for food received from the Greater Boston Food Bank as well as local farms and partners. This will include both dry and refrigerated, to meet the increased demand they are seeing due to COVID.||$475,587|
|Dick’s Market Garden, Inc.||Lunenburg||Dick’s Market Garden will purchase SNAP processing equipment.||$1,086|
|Saint James Outreach/Saint James Church||Grafton||Saint James will purchase freezers and a refrigerator in order to store perishable items for distribution to food insecure residents.||$5,019|
|RiverMills Council on Aging||Chicopee||The Council will purchase refrigeration equipment and a meat slicer in order to store and prepare more meals for Elder services.||$12,311|
|Nubian United Benevolent International Association (NUBIA) Inc.||Boston||NUBIA will purchase a truck to increase services like transportation of supplies & produce and expansion into new farmer’s markets||$45,705|
|Small Farm, Inc||Stow||Small Farm will purchase SNAP processing equipment.||$1,049|
|Oriental Farm||Brockton||Oriental Farm will purchase SNAP processing equipment.||$1,271|
|Seeds of Solidarity Education Center Inc||Orange||The Center will purchase food safety equipment and facility adaptations that will improve supply of affordable farm-fresh vegetables in a low-income community.||$9,878|
|Atlantic Coast Seafood Inc.||Boston||Atlantic Coast Seafood will pursue infrastructure upgrades to ice machines on the Boston Fish Pier that would improve current ice making capacity, allowing Atlantic Coast Seafood to meet the ice quantity needs of the New England fishing fleet.||$500,000|
|Wulf Fish Wholesale, LLC||Boston||Wulf Fish Wholesale will expand new e-commerce operation to increase purchasing with fishing communities in MA, to boost opportunity in food processing, to reduce food insecurity, and to expand seafood nutritional education.||$337,500|
|Regional Environmental Council, Inc.||Worcester||The Council will purchase SNAP processing equipment.||$985|
|Hilltown Mobile Market||Chesterfield||The Market will purchase SNAP processing equipment.||$1,069|
|Boston Area Gleaners||Waltham||Boston Area Gleaners will expand capacity and efficiency of packing, distribution, and inventory management processes through purchases of vehicles, equipment, and software.||$296,640|
|Reefer Van for the Island Food Pantry||Tisbury||Reefer Van for the Island Food Pantry will purchase a refrigerated van to support local deliveries through a newly-formed Delivery Service to members and safely transport food between storage facilities on Martha’s Vineyard.||$42,000|
|Sauchuk Farm, LLC||Plympton||Sauchuk Farm will purchase a new irrigation reel to be used on a variety of crops, to meet demand for locally grown food in the area.||$20,800|
|Gardening the Community||Springfield||Gardening the Community will purchase infrastructure to support production capacity, produce storage and delivery and aggregation infrastructure.||$61,975|
|ServiceNet, Inc.||Hatfield||ServiceNet, Inc. will use its grant for capital investments, web platform improvements to expand the functionality of an online ordering system, and increased cold storage and refrigerated trucking capacity for highly demanded online orders. Proposal serves customers with mental health issues and for group homes.||$88,851|
|Mullaney’s Fish Market||Cohasset||A joint proposal between Mullaney’s Fish Market, Inc., XII Northeast Fishery Sector, Inc. and Friends of South Shore Seafood Development, Inc. to purchase equipment to facilitate start-up and increase processing capacity at a new facility already nearing completion in Scituate, Mass.||$243,250|
|Wellfleet Shellfish Company||Eastham||Wellfleet Shellfish will invest in infrastructure to expand operational function from a seafood distributor to a vertically-integrated seafood production facility.||$390,062|
|YMCA of Metro North||Lynn||YMCA of Metro North will purchase a refrigerated van to deliver meals and distribute food donations, service supplies, equipment to increase capacity at several YMCA locations, and create cafeteria space to serve food at the Lynn YMCA.||$130,000|
|Pittsfield Public Schools||Pittsfield||Pittsfield Public School will buy a refrigerated delivery truck to facilitate safe deliveries of USDA foods and DoD produce as well as local food purchased. This vehicle will be used during the school year and summer to safely distribute food to all 12 school kitchens as well as pick up USDA Food monthly offer.||$106,583|
|Great Falls Aquaculture, LLC||Montague||Great Falls will expand and enhance its current processing room to include freezing, vacuum sealing, smoking, and frozen storage capabilities; and purchase a truck with refrigeration and heating capability for delivering the processed fish and picking up fingerlings shipped from overseas.||$221,260|
|Community Servings, Inc.||Boston||Community Servings provides medically-tailored meals across MA and will expand to 800,000 meals annually through additional infrastructure: industrial food storage and processing equipment and additional refrigerated delivery vans. These investments are critical to meet the increased need across the state among highly vulnerable, food insecure, and immunocompromised individuals living with critical and chronic illnesses.||$227,000|
|Mei Mei Restaurant Inc||Boston||Mei Mei Restaurants Inc will purchase food storage, processing, and transportation equipment as well as improved technology to build the infrastructure necessary to provide no-cost grocery delivery to food insecure families in the Boston metro area.||$55,454|
|Riquezas del Campo||Hatfield||Riquezas del Campo will purchase SNAP processing equipment.||$1,268|
|F/V Padre Pio||Boston||F/V Padre Pio will develop an automatic fish gutting and conveyor system on the deck of the Padre Pio that would significantly reduce the amount of time a catch would be exposed to ambient temperatures on deck before being stored safely below on ice, allowing vessels to catch fish at a higher quality with longer shelf life.||$115,000|
|Russo Fishing Company||Gloucester||Russo Fishing Company will develop an automatic fish gutting and conveyor system on the deck of the Miss Trish that would significantly reduce the amount of time a catch would be exposed to ambient temperatures on deck before being stored safely below on ice, allowing vessels to catch fish at a higher quality with longer shelf life.||$95,000|
|All Farmers||Springfield||All Farmers will purchase SNAP processing equipment.||$1,696|
|We Grow Microgreens, LLC||Boston||We Grow Microgreens will purchase software and equipment to be able to process SNAP payments.||$525|
|St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children||Boston||St. Mary’s will pursue food storage improvements to cafeteria in Dorchester and food pantry in East Boston, including purchase and installation of new industrial-sized walk-in refrigerators and freezers to support the increased level of food storage and meal preparation to meet the demands of the families they serve.||$111,437|
|Motor Vessel Yankee Rose, Inc.||Scituate||Motor Vessel Yankee Rose will purchase a KM Fish Machinery A/S model Mark 7 fish gutting machine, a model KM130-110 vertical fish elevator and a model KM10 fish washing unit and install them on the F/V Miss Emily.||$82,600|
|Riquezas del Campo||Northampton||Riquezas del Campo will pursue infrastructure improvements that will allow for expansion of farm production to meet the rising need for fresh food among low-wage and immigrant workers in the Pioneer Valley. Infrastructure improvements include potable water access, mobile wash station and trailer, tractor, caterpillar tunnels, and mobile cold storage unit.||$139,508|