The Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP) helps provide healthy food to every community in the Commonwealth through funding for the four state food banks. The Food Bank Coalition of Massachusetts (FBCMA) had been working on a multi-year campaign to increase MEFAP funding to $20 million and accomplished this goal in the FY20 budget. Due to the historic demand on the food bank system as a result of COVID-19, the FBCMA secured an additional $10 million for a total of $30 million for the program in the FY21 budget. MEFAP is essential to The Greater Boston Food Bank’s response to COVID-19.
The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) successfully led a statewide legislative campaign and coalition called Rise and Shine Massachusetts. The campaign worked with Senator Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett), Representative Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke), and Representative Andy Vargas (D-Haverhill) in passing “An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell” in August 2020. The legislation, which was unanimously signed into law, requires low-income schools across the state to offer school breakfast to students after the start of the school day, increasing access to breakfast for 150,000 low-income children in Massachusetts.
After spending more than three years building the Rise and Shine Massachusetts coalition, which is made up of schools, legislators, and other advocates, and pushing forth legislation, GBFB looks forward to working with our coalition and state partners at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in implementing this legislation by the 2021-2022 school year.
Raise Up Massachusetts, a grassroots coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups, and labor unions committed to building an economy that works for all of us, ran a successful legislative campaign in 2017 and 2018. Their advocacy included collecting nearly 360,000 signatures to increase minimum wage in the Commonwealth to $15 an hour. As a result, the increase was included within the “Grand Bargain” bill passed by the legislature and signed into law by Governor Charlie Baker in 2018. This bill provides an increase over five years to reach a $15 minimum wage and also implemented a guaranteed paid family and medical leave program. The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) was proud to support the coalition during this campaign and is aligned with the coalition’s values, as we have paid our staff above minimum wage for many years.