Call to Action – Ask Your Rep and Senator to Support Healthy Food Financing

The state budget season is about to kick into high gear with the release of the Governor’s budget proposal this week. House and Senate members are currently presenting their priorities to the Ways and Means chairs. The time is now to ask for the support of your Rep and Senator to fund the Massachusetts Food Trust Program! ASK YOUR REP AND SENATOR TO SUPPORT HEALTHY FOOD FINANCING Please take a few minutes to reach out your Rep and Senator to ask for their support to fund the Massachusetts Food Trust Program in the FY16 state budget.

  • We are asking for $2.5 million to be included in the Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD) line item to support the program.
  • Ask your Rep and Senator to include funding for the Food Trust on their list of priorities. Tell them how funding for the Food Trust could support better access to healthy, affordable food and jobs in your community.
  • Please share the fact sheet, which includes a list of 44 supporting organizations (and growing daily!).
  • Let us know what you hear – we want to track who is willing to lend their support as well as follow up with anyone who has questions or concerns. Please contact Maddie at MPHA to report back: mribble@mphaweb.org.
  • If you don’t know who your Rep and Senator are, visit wheredoivotema.com.

WHY THE MASSACHUSETTS FOOD TRUST?

  • Flexible financing to meet community needs. The Massachusetts Food Trust Program, established in law in 2014, would provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to support new and expanded healthy food retailers and local food enterprises in low and moderate income communities. This could include supermarkets, corner stores, farmer’s markets, mobile markets, community kitchens, food truck commissaries, indoor and outdoor greenhouses, and food distribution hubs. This program was a recommendation of the Grocery Access Task Force, a public-private partnership which met for two years to tackle this problem.
  • Too many Massachusetts communities have poor access to healthy food and lack strong local job opportunities. A study by the Massachusetts Grocery Access Task Force found that large swaths of urban and rural Massachusetts lack good access to grocery stores and other healthy food retailers. Research shows that access to grocery stores is linked to lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases. Many of these same communities are struggling economically and lack appropriate job opportunities for local residents.
  • Better access to healthy food = more jobs. Increased access to food retail options can drive economic growth:
    • The PA Fresh Food Financing Initiative has supported 5,000 jobs
    • The CA FreshWorks Fund has created or retained 1,362 jobs
    • The NY Healthy Food Healthy Communities Fund has created or preserved 1,006 jobs
  • Public financing has leveraged significant private investment. Other states, including NY and PA, have leveraged between $9-15 dollars in private and federal funds for every $1 of state funding.
  • Local food enterprises create opportunity. Food enterprises provide good paying jobs to people with varying levels of skills, education, and language proficiency – and they can’t be outsourced. For example, CropCircle Kitchen, recently expanded to a second site in Boston, has launched over 100 businesses since August 2009, providing support and training for new companies and job opportunities for neighborhood residents.

Questions? Want to get involved in the campaign? Contact Andrea Freeman (afreeman@mphaweb.org) or Maddie Ribble (mribble@mphaweb.org) at MPHA.