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COVID-19 Advocacy Actions

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented time for The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) as hunger has increased by 66% in Eastern Massachusetts. Since March 2020, GBFB has more than doubled our food distribution and SNAP application assistance. Our advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels has been crucial every step of the way to ensure that our network has the resources that they need to meet this historic demand. Our pandemic-related advocacy actions include:

2022 Advocacy Actions
  • January 4: Submitted oral and written testimony in support of state bills H.714 and S.314, An Act relative to universal school meals. Read our statement.
2021 Advocacy Actions
  • February 18: Released statement on the filing of the state Hunger-Free Campus legislation, which is supported by the Massachusetts Hunger-Free Campus Coalition, co-led by GBFB.MA Hunger Free Campus Coalition
  • February 23: Signed onto the federal Northeast Region Anti-Hunger Network letter to the Biden administration outlining anti-hunger policy recommendations.
  • March 11: Released statement on the passage of the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
  • March 22: Submitted oral and written testimony for the federal USDA listening session on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program replacement program.
  • April 28: Submitted letter on behalf of the Food Bank Coalition of MA for Chairman McGovern’s Rules Committee federal hearing on food insecurity.
  • May 4: Submitted written testimony in support of state bills H.864 and S.36, An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards. Governor Baker signed this bill into law on December 22.
  • May 25: Submitted written testimony in support of S.298 and H.715, An Act to promote student nutrition.
  • June 30: Submitted written testimony for the USDA listening session on the federal Thrifty Food Plan.
  • July 23: Submitted written testimony in conjunction with the Common App/SNAP Gap Coalition in support of state bills S.761 and H.1290, An Act to streamline access to critical public health and safety-net programs through common applications.
  • August 10: Sent joint hunger relief organizational letter to the Baker administration and state legislature regarding American Rescue Plan Act funding.
  • August 19: Released statement on the historic reevaluation of the federal Thrifty Food Plan and increase to SNAP benefits.
  • September 20: Signed onto the federal uAspire and #FUELforHigherEd letter asking Congress to pass the EATS Act and Senator Warren’s Student Food Security Act of 2021.
  • September 21: Submitted oral and written testimony in support of GBFB’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) state funding request for the state legislative ARPA hearing on health care.
  • October 7: Submitted oral and written testimony in support of state bills H.1368 and S.822, An Act establishing the Massachusetts hunger-free campus initiative. Read our statement.
  • October 13: Submitted written testimony in support of state bills:
    • H.199 and S.96, An Act to lift kids out of deep poverty
    • H.207 and S.118, An Act concerning food insecurity and supporting the restaurant industry
    • H.234 and S.134, An Act protecting safety net access for Massachusetts residents
    • H.208 and S.119, An Act concerning public assistance for working families and the creation of a pilot program to address the impacts of the cliff effect
    • H.250 and S.108, An Act relative to an agricultural healthy incentives program
    • S.145, An Act establishing a commission to study childhood hunger in Norfolk County as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
    • S.146, An Act relative to establishing an emergency food assistance committee
  • October 28: Submitted written testimony in conjunction with the Transfer Fee for Affordable Housing Coalition in support of state bills H.1377 and S.868, An Act empowering cities and towns to support affordable housing with a fee on certain real estate transactions.
    November 5:
    Submitted written testimony in support of state bills H.3144 and S.2116, An Act establishing the Executive Office of Food Resources and Security.
  • December 6: Submitted letter to conference committee considering state bills H.4194 and S.2481, which would update the 2016 cage-free standards law, urging its timely release. Governor Baker signed this bill into law on December 22.
  • December 15: Released statement on historic food security investments in state ARPA funding bill, including $17 million for GBFB and our network for major infrastructure enhancements.
2020 Advocacy Actions
  • Worked with the state to deem food bank and pantry staff and volunteers “essential workers” during the state’s stay-at-home order.
  • April 18: Signed onto the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA) Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity’s letter of support to the state administration to continue their progress on data collection and reporting to understand the equity impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in Massachusetts.
  • April 25: Worked with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to obtain a USDA waiver to conduct Disaster Household Distribution (DHD).
  • April: Supported the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and Project Bread on their Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) awareness campaign by coordinating information and resources to send to all retailers on the new federal program.
  • May 15: Signed onto a proposal by the MPHA’s Task Force on Coronavirus and Equity to call for an equitable and inclusive reopening plan.
  • MEMA Box full of healthy foodMay 2020 – Present: Partnered with the Governor’s Food Security Task Force to provide food insecurity data and supported the state’s investment of:
    • $12 million for 25,000 family food boxes per week, distributed by the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) through a regional food supply system. These boxes were distributed to food pantries.
    • $5 million in additional funding for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) to meet the increased demand for local produce and increase access points that process SNAP and HIP benefits.
    • $36 million for the COVID-19 Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, which provides funding to organizations in the emergency food system to help them adapt and expand capacity as way to ensure that individuals and families have access to healthy food during the pandemic.
  • June 9: Partnered with DTA on a SNAP outreach webinar for GBFB partner agencies.
  • Gov. Baker touring GBFB facilitiesJune 11: Coordinated a GBFB visit from Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, and Secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides.
  • Secured $9 million for the Food Bank Coalition of Massachusetts (FBCMA) from the FY20 Supplemental Budget for COVID-19 expenditures.
  • June 23: Secured signatures from the entire Massachusetts federal delegation on a SNAP sign-on letter to U.S. Senate leadership.
  • July 1: Participated in Governor Baker’s visit and tour of YMCA Boston to highlight the partnership between the city of Boston, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), YMCA, and GBFB.
  • July 2020: Governor Baker signed the FY20 supplemental budget, which included $9 million to support food banks and included other support for hunger-relief programs.
  • December 2020: Governor Baker signed the FY21 budget, which included $30 million (a $10 million increase) for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP), $17 million for HIP, and other support for hunger-relief programs.

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