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Thursday, June 21, 2018

$1 Million in Funding to Increase Access to Healthy, Local Food Options

Baker-Polito Administration Awards Over $1 Million in Funding to Increase Access to Healthy, Local Food Options

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $1,080,000 to a joint partnership between the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) and Franklin County Community Development Corporation (FCCDC) to create a sustainable program that creates quality jobs and increases food access for low-income residents throughout the state. The funding is awarded under the Massachusetts Food Trust Program (MFTP), a program launched by the Baker-Polito Administration in 2017, which seeks to establish a financing infrastructure that increases access to healthy, affordable food options and to improve economic opportunities for nutritionally underserved communities statewide.

“The Massachusetts Food Trust Program continues our administration’s commitment to addressing food insecurity, supporting agriculture and improving access to locally-grown nutritional options for families,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Community-based organizations are vital partners in ensuring residents across the Commonwealth have the ability to utilize locally-sourced agriculture and the funding awarded will ensure residents are able to incorporate a balanced, healthy diet into their daily routine.”

The MFTP, funded through the Baker-Polito Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Investment Plan, provides funding through grants to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Community Development Corporations (CDCs).This statewide program is designed to meet the financing needs to fresh food retailers and distributors that plan to operate in underserved communities where costs and credit needs cannot be filled solely by conventional financing institutions.

“The Local Enterprise Assistance Fund and Franklin County Community Development Corporation work tirelessly to connect residents in nutritionally underserved communities with fresh, healthy products grown by farmers around the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The funding awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration, in addition to the work of the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, will continue to promote the role and importance of a nutritionally-balanced diet for residents in all corners of the state.”

With the funding, grantees may provide grants, loans and technical assistance to support entities that have shown a meaningful commitment to sell fresh, affordable and local health products, with a preference for Massachusetts-grown, caught or harvested food. Projects that are eligible for funding through the awarded financial institutions include the development, renovation and expansion of supermarkets; commercial community kitchens; commercial greenhouses; retail, restaurant and supporting food distribution hub options.

“We are excited to add the Food Trust Program to the suite of the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resource’s current grant programs that are funding organizations which are collaborating to create more options and foster solutions to positively impact the Massachusetts food movement,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “We look forward to working with LEAF and FCCDC as they identify projects that will achieve the goals of the Food Trust program.”

The MFTP will expand investment and create economic opportunities throughout the Commonwealth as well as improve access to Massachusetts grown, harvested or caught food products through the development of collaborations with local agricultural enterprises and private/public entities.  Investments will help implement identified goals of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan and contribute to the financing needs of local Massachusetts food enterprises.

“I congratulate the Franklin County CDC and LEAF on this innovative partnership to strengthen our local food systems and provide healthier local food choices to people throughout the Commonwealth,” said State Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington). “I also thank the Baker-Polito Administration for its strong and continued support of farmers, food businesses, and the vital agriculture sector of our state's economy.  This funding will go a long way to addressing the issues of food insecurity, improving nutrition, and increasing incomes and business opportunities for our hard-working farmers. It is a meaningful and smart investment in a better future for our citizens.”

“Connecting nutritionally underserved communities with healthy locally grown options is a win-win, and this collaboration creates an incredible resource for this purpose,” said State Senator Adam G. Hinds (D-Pittsfield).

“In rural Massachusetts we are all too familiar with the negative effects of food insecurity on hard-working families struggling to make ends meet. Initiatives like this grant from the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, breakfast in the classroom, and the Healthy Incentives Program are all integral to eliminating food deserts and ensuring that access to quality, healthy food is not a luxury but a right,” said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). “Congratulations to the Franklin County CDC and I look forward to working with them, LEAF, and the administration to accomplish the goals of this program.”
                                                                           
MDAR’s goals have been to increase and sustain the capacity of local food producers and enterprises to provide tangible, measurable benefits to residents in low-moderate income communities which include:  increased access to healthy fresh food, entrepreneurial opportunities, economic enhancement, and increased access to Massachusetts produced foods.

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