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Mayor Walsh releases action plan to ensure City's Food system can withstand disruption

May 27, 2015

Mayor's Office

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Mayor's Office

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today released Resilient Food Systems, Resilient Cities: Recommendations for the City of Boston, an action plan to ensure the city’s food system is able to withstand and recover from disruptions and natural disasters. Boston is now the first city of its size to study and assess food system resilience. 

“This winter’s historic snowfall showed how much weather can impact daily operations," said Mayor Walsh. "As a City we need to be fully prepared when these storms or other natural disasters occur. With these recommendations, we will be working to prepare our food systems from any disruption.” 

Boston has a complex food system of producers, processors, distributors and retailers that feeds more than 645,000 people. More than 100,000 people in Boston are food insecure, living without adequate access to fresh, healthy food. Today’s report will allow Boston to develop a resilient system in which all constituents have access to food, both in their daily lives and in the wake of a natural disaster.

The report was released by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and commissioned by the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives. The report was funded by the Henry P. Kendall Foundation and the Local Sustainability Matching Fund, a project of the Funder’s Network for Smart Growth and Livable Cities and the Urban Sustainability Directors Network. The report identifies points of vulnerability in food availability and access that could arise as a result of a natural disaster and created a set of recommendations for implementation.

Five areas for improvement are identified within the report, and focus on strengthening Boston’s food system to ensure that the City is able to return to normal operations following a natural disaster:

  1. Greater public-private food system coordination, within Boston and the region;
  2. Investment in critical food system infrastructure, including buildings and roads;
  3. More national chain grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods;
  4. Robust resilience plans for small grocery stores and corner stores; and
  5. Expanded capacity and increased efficiency of Boston’s food safety net.

These areas will be improved through a coordinated strategy with lead agencies and organizations including the Office of Food Initiatives, the Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space, Boston Redevelopment Authority, Office of Business Development, Boston Transportation Department, Office of Emergency Management and The Greater Boston Food Bank.

Among the report’s recommendations, some include:

  • Establishing a food system resilience committee that includes representatives from public and private sector food organizations;
  • Developing a “playbook” of best practices in contingency planning and provide technical assistance to support food resilience planning for corner stores;
  • Reviewing future development plans for Boston to assess impact on food distribution and retail;
  • Incorporating insights from the study to the Go Boston 2030 transportation plan; and
  • Developing and disseminating “storm action plan” guidelines for food safety net organizations.

"We are grateful for being included on Boston's Food Resilience Steering Committee and we are excited about the opportunity of furthering our work with the city to implement the ICIC recommendations in order to insure and improve food access for all of the city's residents," said Catherine D'Amato, President and CEO, The Greater Boston Food Bank.

To view the whole report, please visit: