2021-2023 Food Access agenda released
Mayor Kim Janey and the Mayor’s Office of Food Access (OFA) today announced Boston’s Food Access Agenda for 2021-2023. The agenda is informed by the community engagement process led by Health Leads, a health equity-focused nonprofit that has worked in the Boston community for more than 20 years. The community engagement process brought together more than 100 Boston community residents, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, health centers, mutual aid programs, academic institutions, and local government staff to assess current food resources and needs in Boston. OFA used the information gathered from the community process and re-evaluated the 2019 Mayor’s Food Access Agenda, especially given the added challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, to create the 2021-2023 Food Access Agenda.
As a result of the engagement process, the four main themes of this strategic 2021-2023 Food Access Agenda are:
- Improve affordability and accessibility of healthy and fresh foods
- Encourage availability of culturally diverse food products
- Increase public awareness of available food resources
- Support and strengthen community-led solutions
“Understanding the needs of Boston residents is a vital part of developing strategies to address food insecurity, especially as we continue planning for our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Janey. “I want to thank all of our partners for their contribution to creating an updated Food Access Agenda to map our plans for helping more Bostonians.”
Informed by the results from the community engagement process, the Food Access Agenda for 2021-2023 envisions a bold recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and an end to food insecurity in Boston by 2030 by elevating food as a right, not a privilege. With detailed long- and short-term goals, the agenda will guide the programs and priorities of the Mayor’s Office of Food Access going forward.
As part of this agenda, the City has already started working on connecting Boston residents with long-term sustainable resources, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), the Health Incentive Program (HIP), and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Currently, the City is working with Project Bread to address misinformation related to these programs and training community-based organizations, health providers, and other groups interested in supporting the community with the application process.
The City is also working on increasing the choice and buying power for Boston residents by expanding the Boston Double Up Program and Boston Farmers Markets coupons. With these two initiatives, the Office of Food Access addresses the goals of building sustainable and equitable recovery programs that make healthy food more affordable and accessible, while also de-stigmatizing food insecurity and related programs, and prioritizing investing in the local economy.
“We heard the community and we want to support the work they are doing and have them be part of the solutions,” said Catalina López-Ospina, Mayor’s Office of Food Access Director. “We are committed to empowering and elevating the work community-based organizations are leading. They are essential to ensuring an equitable and sustainable recovery of our most hardest-hit communities.”
Farmers Markets Coupons Program
As part of Boston’s ongoing efforts to increase food access, the City of Boston launched a pilot during winter 2020, and is now restarting the Farmers Markets Coupon Program with an investment of $576,000 for the summer season. The Farmers Markets Coupon Program is an incentive program that will support families who experience challenges buying the food they need and want, and small businesses participating in the farmers markets. The program is twofold. It provides households experiencing food insecurity with coupons to buy fresh produce, dairy products, eggs, meats, and baked goods. It gives vendors mini-grants to participate in small farmer’s markets. The mini-grant can be used to pay for operating costs such as staff at small markets that the vendor does not currently attend. Residents interested in receiving coupons should visit participating Farmers Markets and ask for coupons. Farmers market vendors interested in being funded to participate at small farmers markets should fill out an at boston.gov/food-recovery or email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
For more information about food resources available, visit here.
ABOUT THE OFFICE OF FOOD ACCESS
The mission of the Mayor’s Office of Food Access is to improve equitable access to nutritious food with respect to affordability, physical accessibility, and cultural connectedness. In pursuit of this mission, OFA will foster a more food secure community with vibrant, inclusive food culture, reflective of the diverse residents of the City.