Continuing its ongoing efforts to support a resilient, secure local food supply chain in Massachusetts, the Commonwealth announced today $5.9 million in grants to address urgent food insecurity for residents across Massachusetts as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including nearly $300,000 in grants to Cape Ann businesses and nonprofits.
This funding is being awarded as part of the fourth round of the new $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following the recommendations from the COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force, which promotes ongoing efforts to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to healthy, local food.
The goal of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program is to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have equitable access to food, especially local food. The program also seeks to ensure that farmers, fishermen and other local food producers are better connected to a strong, resilient food system to help mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption.
While project applications for the Food Infrastructure Grant Program closed in September, applications submitted before the proposal deadline continue to be evaluated for future rounds of funding.
The fourth round of the grant program includes 47 awards for a total of $5,895,554 to fund critical investments in technology, equipment, capacity, and other assistance to help local food producers, especially in the distribution of food insecure communities. When evaluating the applications, considerations included equity, economic impact and need, sustainability and scalability of efforts, and ability to support producer readiness to accept SNAP and HIP benefits. In the program’s first three rounds, the Commonwealth awarded over $11.7 million to more than 90 recipients.
Included in this round of awards are $200,000 for The Open Door and $95,000 for Russo Fishing Company. The Open Door will develop and implement an online ordering and delivery system, expand storage to increase choice of meals as well as store locally produced food, and expand their Mobile Market program to be able to reach more areas throughout the community. Russo Fishing Company will develop an automatic fish gutting and conveyor system on the deck of the Miss Trish that would significantly reduce the amount of time a catch would be exposed to ambient temperatures on deck before being stored safely below on ice, allowing vessels to catch fish at a higher quality with longer shelf life.
These grants are a great first step toward strengthening our ability to deliver food from the harvesters, our fishermen and farmers for delivery to the consumers. I am particularly pleased that in this round, preference was also given to food pantries which have been so important in ensuring food security for our most vulnerable. I look forward to watching the Commonwealth’s investment and growth in our food supply chain.