The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative (www.mafoodsystem.org), which has led the Campaign for HIP Funding (www.hipma.org) for four years, opposes Governor Baker’s plan to dramatically cut support for healthy families and sustainable farms by reducing funding for the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) as proposed in yesterday’s release of H1.
For Massachusetts farmers to feed the Commonwealth, land must be available and affordable. There are a number of laws, programs, regulations, and an executive order seeking to maintain our agricultural land base, but they do not coordinate, or do not coordinate well with each other, leading to , reduced effectiveness, economic and administrative inefficiency, and continued loss of farmland.
Participants in the 2020 listening sessions that led to publication of Massachusetts’ Local Food System: Perspectives on Resilience and Recovery repeatedly raised the need to build up awareness of the local food system at the municipal level. There were many ideas put forward toward that goal: engaging municipal leaders in food system advocacy; building coalitions to advocate for policy change at the municipal level; and working with local food policy councils to affect change, among them. Education about the food system for municipal leaders and advocates becoming more familiar with municipal legislative and regulatory processes could make coordinating at this level easier.
The final discussion in the MA Food System Collaborative’s discussion series focused on the responses to the dramatic increase in the number of people in Massachusetts who are food insecure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists discussed the programs and collaborations that have addressed some of the growing needs, as well as advocacy campaigns to influence state and federal policy to address these issues systemically.
The third in the MA Food System Collaborative’s discussion series focused on the challenges facing the Massachusetts food supply chain. The speakers on the panel represented various parts of the supply chain and reflected on how they changed their models in the face of the pandemic.
The keynote panel of the MA Food System Collaborative’s discussion series demonstrated the ways that Massachusetts organizations are working to address racial equity in their local food system work. Systemic racism is like bad soil, said facilitator Liz Wills O’Gilvie. Until we improve the soil, we won’t be able to grow good food or do good work.
Disruption caused by the COVID pandemic, and Massachusetts’ state and local responses to that disruption, highlight the impact and benefit our food system has on all of us. COVID’s acute impact on our food system also exposed systemic issues that, if not addressed, will become more problematic through the unrelenting pressures caused by climate change.
This has been a turbulent year for Massachusetts’ local food system. Organizations and businesses have had to adapt their programs, address changing needs, and continue to operate safely in response to COVID-19. There has been a resurgence of energy in the Movement for Black Lives, as the pandemic disproportionately impacted communities of color.
"Every bite each of us takes has been shaped by a complex range of forces, some in our control and others well outside of our control. By endeavoring to understand those forces better, and to play a more active role in influencing them, Massachusetts residents are working toward a food system that better meets the needs of everyone in the state."