BOSTON — The Healey-Driscoll administration announced awards of nearly $250,000 in Local Food Policy Council program funding to 17 organizations across Massachusetts. These Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) grants will enhance the work of existing and new local food-policy councils and food working groups across Massachusetts. The grants will help to accelerate their development, expand their capacity, and increase their connections and opportunities for peer-to-peer learning to support the local food system.
“Massachusetts’ local food-policy councils and food working groups are vital to the fabric of our food system and help connect communities to healthy, nutritious foods. We are happy to recognize and invest in this important work,” Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper said. “This support is critical, especially as our local food system weathers an increasingly volatile climate.”
MDAR Commissioner Ashley Randle added that “we greatly appreciate this appropriation from our partners in the state Legislature to provide these grants to our Massachusetts local food-policy councils and food working groups. Projects and initiatives funded through this program will develop and continue work to impact the long-term viability and sustainability of our local food system in Massachusetts.”
Six of the grants benefit programs in Western Mass, including:
• Hampshire County Food Policy Council, Northampton: $19,999 to coordinate training for the sustainability of the council;
• Hilltown CDC, Chesterfield: $9,368 to create a farmer/food producer working circle to discuss distribution, production, and environmental issues negatively affecting the local food system and identify strategies to address the conditions;
• Holyoke Food Economy Coalition, Holyoke: $8,000 to address food insecurity, including the support of local food businesses and food entrepreneurs to create jobs and improve wages in food and farming;
• Just Roots, Greenfield: $12,399.75, through which the Franklin County Food Council will conduct an analysis of its current food-policy assets, strengths, gaps, and priorities with a focus on capacity building and bringing a more diverse group of stakeholders to the table while re-engaging current members;
• South Berkshire Rural Health Network, Great Barrington: $11,820, through which the Food Access Working Group of South Berkshire County will develop a strategic plan and improve connections to the region’s most vulnerable residents; and
• Town of Ware: $11,970 to create the Quaboag Valley Region Food Policy Council.