Our Policy Work

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Policy change is the most impactful solution to address hunger

Project Bread understands that hunger can't be solved through stop-gap measures. Instead, our work seeks to provide sustainable, scalable solutions that permanently move the needle on ending hunger.

The Latest

The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health

President & CEO of Project Bread, Erin McAleer attended The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health on September 28, 2022. At the conference, President Biden committed to end hunger in the United States by 2030. In advance of the conference, his administration released the National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, the first comprehensive roadmap to combat food insecurity in fifty years.

Here is Project Bread's take on the plan, including which of our recommendations were included, and what we feel is still missing in order to achieve its goal. 

Erin McAleer, President & CEO of Project Bread Starts Line

Our 2021 State Policy Priorities

We recognize that communities and people of color are disproportionately impacted by hunger because systemic racism leads to economic inequity and health disparities. As part of our efforts to eradicate hunger, we advocate for both state and federal policy change to expand food access and program eligibility, clarify misconceptions about receiving support.

Current Initiatives

  • 01.

    Increase Access to Fresh Produce

    Launched in 2017, the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) allows SNAP recipients to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers. While the program has been a tremendous success, to date it has only been authorized through the state budget. An Act Relative to an Agricultural Healthy Incentives Program (H.145/S.108) would create a permanent program to ensure the program’s long-term sustainability.

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    Stonehill Farm Mobile Market
  • 02.

    Hunger-Free College Campuses

    According to the most recent data, 37% of public university students in Massachusetts experience food insecurity. Project Bread has joined the Hunger-Free College Campus Coalition to support An Act Establishing the Massachusetts Hunger-Free Campus Initiative (H.1368/S.822) which would provide capacity, guidance, and funding to public colleges and not-for-profit institutions of higher education take steps to alleviate food insecurity on campus.

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  • 03.

    Common Applications to Close the Gaps - PASSED!

    Over 700,000 residents of Massachusetts are estimated to be eligible for SNAP, but are not currently enrolled. An additional 22,000 families receive SNAP benefits, but have zero income even for cash assistance. An Act to Streamline Access to Critical Public Health and Safety-Net Programs Through Common Applications (H.1290/S.761) would ease the process for Massachusetts families in need of healthcare, food assistance, cash assistance, and other basic needs.

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  • 04.

    School Meals for All

    Project Bread is leading the Feed Kids Campaign to end childhood hunger, by starting with what happens in schools. By passing An Act Relative to Universal School Meals (H.714/S.314) we can ensure that, while at school, every child is fed and ready to learn without worrying about cost or stigma.

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    Feed Kids Campaign Blog
  • 05.

    Address Unpaid School Meal Debt - PASSED!

    In October 2021, An Act to Promote Student Nutrition (H.715/S.298) was signed into law! This bill prohibits schools from certain meal debt collection practices that involves or penalizes the student.

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Action Center

Your legislators need to hear from you ⁠— let them know you want them to support these key bills or urgent policy actions to ensure equitable food access in Massachusetts by completing the action alerts below.

  • White House Conference

    Thank Congressman McGovern for Championing Hunger at the White House!

    On Sept. 28, the White House held its first conference on hunger in 50 years. This historic day was championed by our very own Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern. Help us thank him for his leadership fighting hunger!

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  • Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill

    Urge our delegation to "vote yes" on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill when it comes to the House floor

    We need our delegation to "vote yes" on the Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill (the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act) when it comes to the House floor. This bill hasn't come up for over a decade and is a rare opportunity for Congress to make long-term, systemic changes to the federal child nutrition programs.

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  • Universal School Meals Extension

    Thank Governor Baker and the Legislature for Funding Universal School Meals for the Coming School Year

    Please take action today to thank Governor Baker for signing the FY2023 budget with these important investments and to thank your legislators for their leadership in fighting hunger through the state budget.

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Join our Action Team

Our success comes from our engaged supporters. Sign up to receive action alerts to impact change and hunger policy updates to stay informed, including our biweekly news round-up, The Hunger Advocate.

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Timeline

Our history of success

Explore the timeline below to see our how our research and advocacy has led to enduring change across the state to permenantly remove barriers to food access and reduce food insecurity in Massachusetts.

Community Action

1969

The Walk for Hunger

Patrick Hughes led the first Walk for Hunger from the Paulist Center in downtown Boston. An estimated 2,000 people walked 29.6 miles, raising $26,000 to help fund two hunger projects. The first pledge walk in the country, the Walk had two purposes: raise funds to help people experiencing hunger and stand together for social justice and social change that would eventually eliminate hunger. This is still true today and continues to be an annual force for change. 

Old faded photo of a large group of people facing the camera at the first Walk for Hunger in Boston Starts Line

Child Nutrition

1994

Child Nutrition Outreach Program

Conducted the first evidence-based study of hunger among low-income families in the state in 1991 with the MA Department of Public Health and the MA Anti-Hunger Coalition, called the Childhood Community Hunger Identification Project (CCHIP). The findings of this study led to the creation of the Child Nutrition Outreach Program —a parternship between Project Bread and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to support school meal programs and help children access healthy meals during the school year and summers.

a boy smiling, wearing a Summer Eats t-shirt in Worcester at a meal site Starts Line

Child Nutrition

2000

Universal School Breakfast

Project Bread sponsored a study, conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, that proved that children who ate breakfast at school were more likely to do well in math, have fewer absences, and require fewer trips to the school nurse. This work led to the bipartisan adoption Universal Breakfast in low-income schools throughout the state, which provides breakfast free of charge to all students regardless of household income.

Elementary school student eating breakfast in the classroom in Amherst Starts Line

Child Nutrition

2003

Direct certification for free school meals

Piloted a collaboration between state agencies, called the Child Nutrition Access Project, that automatically enrolled children receiving SNAP into the free and reduced-price school meals program, reducing the need for multiple applications. This program is now statewide and enrolls hundreds of thousands of children for free school meals each year.

Students lined up at the lunch counter with their trays getting school lunch Starts Line

Equitable Access

2017

Healthy Incentives Program (HIP)

Teamed up with the MA Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to launch the state-wide Healthy Incentives Program, which helps low-income housholds use their SNAP benefits to shop at farmer's markets and local vendors to purchase more fresh fruits and vegetables. 

Two men purchasing farm-fresh produce from the Stonehill Mobile Market Starts Line

Child Nutrition

2020

Breakfast After the Bell

Project Bread played a critical role in ensuring that the Rise and Shine Coalition’s Breakfast After the Bell legislation — An Act Regarding Breakfast After the Bell — was successfully passed. Beginning in school year 2022-2023, all students who attend a school in which 60% or more of their students are eligible for free or reduced price school meals will be required to offer breakfast after the bell to all students.

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Child Nutrition

2021

Addressing school meal debt

Project Bread was instrumental in the passage of An Act Promoting Student Nutrition, a bill that addresses both the root causes of unpaid meal debt as well as the impact unpaid meal debt has on students — prohibiting schools from certain meal debt collection practices that involves or penalizes the student. Alongside our partners at the MA Law Reform Institute, Project Bread was a champion of this bill, helping draft legislative language, providing data and research, and mobilizing advocates leading to this bill becoming law. 

A elementary aged boy holds a school lunch tray while two school nutrition staff serve him from a line Starts Line
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