(WWLP) – Wednesday was day one of two for Congressman James McGovern’s tour of farms across western and central Massachusetts.

The tour’s focus is about finding ways to provide those dealing with food insecurity to have access to nutritious and local food, talking to local organizations to see how things can change or be implemented on a federal level.

“If you’re a small farmer who wants to feed your community. You already have to be an expert in so many things so to take on this extra task can seem daunting,” said Zoey Sloate, the Program Coordinator for Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA). She is describing one way CISA is working to build the bridge between local farmers and those with food insecurity. That was one of the stops on McGovern’s tour.

Where the Congressman discussed ways the American Rescue Plan is addressing hunger and looking ahead to a human infrastructure bill, he said will take things a step further.

“The more that we can actually connect local agriculture to local communities. Local communities to the farms that are producing their food the better this system is going to be,” said Natahan L’Etoile from the New England Regional Director of American Farmland Trust.

A survey of 14 school districts including Greenfield was put out in June by MassInc Polling Group. It found that among families that reported food insecurity, only 40 percent said they received SNAP during the pandemic.

Many families don’t even know they qualify for SNAP. Is that something you guys are talking about in Congress?

“Yeah, we are,” said Congressman McGovern. “Hunger is a political condition. We have the money, the food but the political will to solve it. So I’m calling for a white house conference on food, nutrition and hunger to connect the dots.”

McGovern said the last time a conference like that has been held at the White House was more than 50 years ago which led to the formation of WIC.

McGovern was at the following locations Wednesday:

  • Upinngil Farm located at 411 Main Road in Gill from 9 to 10 a.m.
  • Atlas Farm located at 218 Greenfield Road in South Deerfield from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
  • Crimson & Clover Farm located at 215 Spring Street in Northampton from 1:20 to 2:20 p.m.
  • Many Hands Farm located at 132 Pelham Road in Amherst from 2:50 to 3:50 p.m.

He will continue his tour Thursday in Worcester County.