Heading into the 2021-2022 state legislative session, we knew there was an unprecedented need to address food insecurity, and to encourage policymakers to address this problem in the short, medium, and long term. While there is still a lot to do, we are proud of the accomplishments achieved this session by our team, our partners, and advocates like you.
Creating policy requires a good idea, at the right time, with the right messaging, and the right momentum. Through your advocacy and support, you helped make those conditions happen. And our legislators heard the call — thank you!
Of the 15 bills Project Bread prioritized this session to prevent hunger in Massachusetts:
Here is the impact of these bills and how you've made a difference for people and families in Massachusetts
In January 2021, our allies Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Andy Vargas filed An Act Relative to Universal School Meals which would create a permanent School Meals for All Policy in Massachusetts. The Feed Kids Coalition, convened to support this campaign, grew to over 120 members and secured co-sponsorship support from over half of the legislature, 110 Senators and Representatives in total. While the bill did not pass this session, the legislature included $110 million in its Fiscal Year 2023 budget to cover the cost of School Meals for All during the 2022-2023 school year.
Our legislative allies also passed An Act Promoting Student Nutrition to address both the root causes of unpaid meal debt as well as the impacts this debt has on students. Many of the schools eligible for the federal Community Eligibility Provision must now consider it and schools are prohibited from meal debt collection practices that involve or penalize a student.
For years, advocates have been calling on the state to create a Common Application that would allow households and individuals in need to apply for assistance programs with a single application, instead of the current system that requires filling out multiple forms and applying to several state agencies, all while repeatedly providing the same or similar information. This policy is now law and will be implemented by the Healey/Driscoll Administration. Once launched, households will be able to apply for MassHealth, SNAP, and other benefits all at once, helping ensure fewer people fall through the gaps.
The Legislature approved $13 million and $12 million for the Healthy Incentive Program (HIP) in Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, respectively. This represents a significant increase in support for this program first launched in 2017 and a recognition of its success in supporting the local food economy and increasing the purchasing power of households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
While passage of An Act establishing the Massachusetts Hunger-Free Campus Initiative is still necessary, the legislature appropriated $3.74 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to address the issue of college student food insecurity.
$1.92 million to Project Bread for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach and awareness. During our efforts so far, an additional 6,684 people per month applied for SNAP.
Increased funding for Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline to better support individuals and families seeking food assistance and connect more eligible households to federal nutrition programs.
Increased funding for Project Bread’s Child Nutrition Outreach Program to support schools and community programs to better serve children by increasing access to school and summer meals.
The Department of Transition Assistance launched a pilot of the Restaurant Meals Program that allows households with elderly or disabled members to purchase prepared meals with SNAP from participating vendors.
Increases to Transitional Aid for Families with Dependent Children and Elderly, Disabled and Children to ensure fewer families live in deep poverty and are able to purchase everyday necessities.
$1 million for farm to school grants.
$500 million to support childcare and preschool programs.
In January, new legislators will be sworn in and file new legislation. Your voice will be needed to impact policy outcomes to prevent hunger. Join Project Bread's Action Team to learn about our 2023-2024 agenda and how stay up-to-date on how you can help make next session another great success for passing anti-hunger policies!