On Thursday, March 23, Governor Maura Healey visited GBFB partner agency, the Dwelling House of Hope, in Lowell Massachusetts to learn about the food pantry’s operations and the community’s food insecurity needs. Levenia Furusa, Dwelling House’s Founder and Executive Director, led the Governor, Lowell city officials, and community members on a tour of the food pantry, through shelves stocked with nutritious essentials, boxes of fresh plantains, yucca, grapes, and coolers of protein including halal chicken, a frequently requested item at the pantry.
Furusa and GBFB team members then facilitated a conversation with the Governor about the rising need in the Lowell community and challenges that the emergency food system faces, including infrastructure, staffing, and high cost of food and supply chain disruptions leading to food shortages. Governor Healey listened intently, asking questions about what resources food pantries needed and what barriers stand in the way of accessing healthy food. Remarking on the magnitude of the pantry’s distribution and sharing her gratitude for those working on the frontlines to address food insecurity, the Governor spoke of her FY23 Supplemental Budget, passed a days after the visit, which will provide an “off-ramp” covering 40% of pandemic SNAP benefits that over one million residents in the Commonwealth lost with the end of pandemic benefits in early March.
The visit to Dwelling House came after a morning at Hajjar Elementary School in Billerica, where she joined students for lunch and highlighted her proposal to extend the universal free school lunch and breakfast program in Massachusetts.
GBFB applauds the Governor for bringing attention to the issue of food insecurity in the Commonwealth. We look forward to continued discussions with the Governor’s team on how we can partner to strengthen the emergency food system and better meet the needs of the 1 in 3 people facing food insecurity in the Commonwealth.