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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu to Introduce Hearing Order at Council Meeting Today to Discuss Emergency Food Procurement and Distribution Efforts at BPS and Other Community Organizations

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu to Introduce Hearing Order at Council Meeting Today to Discuss Emergency Food Procurement and Distribution Efforts at BPS and Other Community Organizations

Boston, MA— In a continued effort to ensure an equitable COVID-19 recovery for all Boston residents, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu has filed a hearing order to discuss emergency food procurement and distribution efforts at BPS and other community organizations, as well as those funded through the Boston Resiliency Funds. 

Disparities in nutritional access along racial and ethnic lines have worsened over the last two decades, driven by continued structural racism in our health, housing, educational, and economic systems and contributing to chronic diet-related diseases, including hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which disproportionately affect Black, Latinx and Native Americans, and are linked to higher morbidity and mortality from COVID-19. 

Across eastern Massachusetts, rates of food insecurity are projected to increase by 59% in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows that poor diet quality also contributes to worse educational outcomes, including lower school attendance and academic performance and higher dropout rates.

Since schools closed in March, Boston Public Schools (BPS) has operated numerous food distribution sites for BPS families to pick up prepared meals, with additional sites opening in July to operate the summer meals program. However, BPS families and community members have expressed concerns that the quality, safety and sustainability of meals served could compromise the health and wellbeing of BPS students and depart from the procurement principles to which the City committed through the Good Food Purchasing Program (GFPP) ordinance. 

Councilor Wu is calling for a hearing to discuss access to City programs; and to prepare for challenges heading into the next school year and a potential second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. This hearing will be in anticipation of a public meeting to be held no later than January 2021 to present the findings from a baseline assessment of food procurement practices at BPS and other City agencies and departments, scheduled to be completed in October 2020. 

The hearing order will be introduced at today’s 12PM Boston City Council meeting and assigned to a committee to schedule the hearing in the coming weeks.  Read the full order here

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