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Policy Efforts to Watch: Massachusetts Food Trust Program

In 2014, the Massachusetts legislature passed a bill to establish the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, a healthy food financing program that would provide loans, grants, and technical assistance to support the development, renovation, and expansion of healthy food retailers and food enterprises in parts of the state that need them the most. This could include supermarkets, corner stores, farmers markets, and mobile markets, as well as community kitchens, greenhouses, and food distribution hubs. The measure was included in an Environmental Bond Bill and signed into law in 2014 by Governor Patrick.
 
The program was created in response to the recommendations of the Massachusetts Grocery Access Task Force, and the advocacy of convening partners, including the Massachusetts Food Association, the Massachusetts Public Health Association, The Boston Foundation, and The Food Trust. The task force met over the course of 2012 and developed policy recommendations to support supermarkets and other fresh food retail in underserved areas across the state.
 
Signing the program into law marked an important milestone in the state’s commitment to improving food access in areas of need. After four years of tireless advocacy by task force members and partners across the state, on July 2016, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law the FY17 Operating Budget, which included $100,000 in dedicated funding to the Massachusetts Food Trust program. Additionally, the Massachusetts Legislature is currently working on an Economic Development bill that has $6 million in funding for the capital expenses of the Massachusetts Food Trust and is expected to be signed into law later in the summer of 2016. To stay up-to-date on healthy food access in Massachusetts, click here.
 
  • The Massachusetts Public Health Association created this fact sheet about the legislation.
  • More information, including reports on food access in the state and the recommendations of the Grocery Access Task Force, can be found here.

For more information on how to advocate for and create a state or local healthy food financing Initiative: The Healthy Food Financing Handbook: From Advocacy to Implementation.

 

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