The MA Food System Collaborative is working with Massachusetts Farm to School and other partners to develop and advocate for a set of policy changes that would increase schools’ ability to purchase more local food and incorporate more agricultural and nutrition education into their curricula.
The Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) re-launched in May after a suspension of slightly more than a month. As the growing season begins, SNAP recipients are once again able to earn a one-to-one match for their purchases directly from farmers at participating farmers markets, mobile markets, farmstands, and CSAs.
The governor has introduced, and the legislature is considering, the quadrennial environmental bond bill. The 2018 version of this spending authorization (H.4599, An Act promoting climate change adaptation, environmental and natural resource protection, and investment in recreational assets and opportunity) proposes funding for many programs supported by Plan recommendations. The Collaborative has been working with allies to ensure that this bill provides appropriate resources for programs critical to the local food system. This includes advocating for:
The MA Food System Collaborative has released “Sustainability and Equity in the Massachusetts Food System: A Progress Report.” This report showcases organizations, businesses and networks working toward the goals in the MA Local Food Action Plan, which was completed at the end of 2015.
On October 1, 2014 the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) began enforcing the Commercial Food Waste Ban, an effort to divert food waste from landfills. MassDEP targeted food waste and other organics in part because it was the largest segment of the municipal solid waste stream. Food and other organics account for well over a million tons a year of the approximately 5.5 million tons of waste Massachusetts disposes of in landfills and incinerators every year.
Massachusetts’ Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR) Program is one of the oldest state farmland protection programs in the country. Enacted in 1977, the program targets the most productive soils and purchases perpetual easements that assure the land will be available for farming for generations to come.
More than 80 advocates, farmers, and SNAP recipients participated in HIP Lobby Day at the Massachusetts State House on March 1, meeting with legislators and staff to educate them about the Healthy Incentives Program and the need for ongoing funding to support it. The Program provides a dollar-for-dollar match for SNAP dollars spent on fruits and vegetables purchased at participating farmers markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and community supported agriculture (CSA) programs statewide. Every dollar allocated to this program is a direct investment in the health of Massachusetts residents and communities, our local economy, and our natural resources.
The Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) has far outpaced expectations, with SNAP recipients purchasing more than $2.5 million of fresh produce from local farmers between April and November, and earning an equal amount of incentives in the process. In the first seven months of HIP, 58,000 SNAP clients benefited from the program, exceeding redemption expectations by more than 470%. Nearly 50% of the 33,000 households that have benefited include a senior, and more than 30% include a child.
The MA Food System Collaborative hosted the 2017 Massachusetts Food System Forum in Leominster on November 17. More than 200 people, from farmers to funders, elected officials to nonprofit leaders, looked back at how the food system has become stronger in the two years since the completion of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan and generated ideas on how to work together to continue to move toward the goals of the Plan.