Funding the Massachusetts Food Trust
Access to healthy food is essential for a healthy life. Unfortunately, more than 2.8 million people in Massachusetts, including 700,000 children and 500,000 seniors, have inadequate access to grocery stores and other healthy food retailers. In response to this need, MPHA helped create the Massachusetts Food Trust Program to provide loans, grants, and business assistance to support new and expanding grocery stores, farmers markets, and other local food enterprises in low and moderate income communities.
With strong support from MPHA and our partners, the Program launched in 2018 with $100,000 in operating funds from the Legislature and $1 million in capital dollars from the Baker Administration. Since then, MPHA has helped secure additional funds for the Food Trust. resulting in loans and grants to support healthy food projects across Massachusetts. These include grocery store expansions, farmers markets, food co-ops, urban farm stands, and an initiative to increase the availability of fresh produce in corner stores. State funds administered through the Program have also leveraged millions of dollars in private and federal investments.
Looking ahead, MPHA will continue to support additional capital and operating funds for this innovative program. By investing in the Food Trust, we can not only continue expanding access to healthy affordable food, but also drive economic growth, create local job opportunities, and help to build healthier and more prosperous communities.
Supporting Mass in Motion
Mass in Motion is a state program that works to lower the risk of chronic disease by creating communities that support healthy eating and active living. Eating better and moving more are powerful ways to stay healthy and prevent chronic disease. Mass in Motion is proven to reduce childhood obesity by working closely with local schools, restaurants, convenience stores and food pantries to offer healthier food and drink options. In addition, the program increases opportunities for exercise by improving access to healthy outdoor environments like public parks, playgrounds and green spaces.
MPHA has been a longtime supporter of Mass in Motion, and we continue to advocate for funding for this unique and effective program. By expanding this approach into more communities, we can help ensure that Massachusetts residents who are most at-risk for obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases have access to the tools they need to lead healthier lives.
Closing the SNAP Gap
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) enables low-income families to afford healthy and nutritious foods. In addition, SNAP also protects families from hardships and hunger. SNAP can help bridge the gap if a parent loses a job or an unexpected medical expense arises.
The “SNAP GAP” refers to the over 700,000 individuals in Massachusetts who are currently MassHealth recipients and are likely eligible for SNAP but are not receiving the benefit. The average SNAP benefit for a household in MA is $213 per month. Ensuring that as many low-income families as possible have access to adequate food reduces health care costs, improves educational outcomes, and has long-term positive effects on public health.