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:
2021 Advocacy Actions
- February 2021: FBCMA sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders offering to partner with the state in vaccine rollout and logistics in order to ensure that our essential workforce, volunteers, and the marginalized communities that our food bank network serve have information and access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
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.
- May 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.
- June 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.