FACT: Massachusetts has a shortage of grocery stores. According to The Food Trust’s 2010 report, there are 141 too few, making us 47th out of 50 states for grocery stores per capita. One of the recommendations resulting from that report is to establish a fresh food financing fund, as several other states have done, to stimulate grocery store development. By providing grants, loans, and technical assistance to renovate corners stores, expand farmers markets, and build more supermarkets in undeserved communities, more people will have easier access to more affordable, healthier foods.
An Act to Expand Access to Healthy Foods currently resides with the House and Senate Ways & Means Committees. To compel these committees to bring this important bill to the floor for debate and a vote before the legislative session ends in August, the Act FRESH Coalition, spearheaded by MPHA, has launched a postcard blitz. Members of Act FRESH’s Healthy Food Access Working Group are working in their communities to have individuals sign and write a personal note on two postcards–one for their state senator and one for their state representative. All of the signed postcards are coming back to MPHA and we’ll deliver them in June en masse to the elected officials. Already, the MA Dietetic Association has collected signed postcards at their annual conference. The City of Lawrence Mayor’s Health Task Force and Groundwork Lawrence are working on this, along with LiveWell Springfield, Mill City Grows (Lowell), Holyoke Food & Fitness Policy Council, Worcester Food & Active Living Policy Council, Energize Everett, and the MA Councils on Aging (statewide), with more to come! If you’d like to help with this postcard blitz, contact MPHA Deputy Field Director Andrea Freeman (firstname.lastname@example.org, 857-263-7072 x103)