SUNDERLAND — The state has awarded more than $13.2 million in grants to address urgent food insecurity resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding is part of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following recommendations from the state COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force, which promotes ongoing efforts to ensure everyone has access to healthy, local food.
Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides visited Riverland Farm in Sunderland on Thursday to announce the grants.
“By announcing these grants at a local farm today, I want to highlight the critical work Massachusetts farmers, fishers and food producers are doing to connect their nutritious products with the residents who need it most, even as these businesses have faced challenges during the pandemic,” Theoharides said.
Riverland Farm in Sunderland will receive $109,076 to purchase farm equipment in an effort to expand the farming season to bring additional produce to the market.
More than 175 food pantries, farms and nonprofits across the state were awarded funds, including $130,000 for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to purchase a vehicle for its emergency food distribution efforts.
“I am proud of the legislature’s role in expanding access to local, healthy, fresh food throughout the Commonwealth,” said state Rep. Natalie Blais, D-Sunderland. “The tremendous response to the program shows the need for continued investment.”
The Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program was announced in May 2020 as part of a $56 million funding proposal to combat urgent food insecurity for some Massachusetts families and individuals during the pandemic.
“Food security infrastructure grants have brought critically-needed funds to Hampshire, Franklin, Worcester farms, food business, and non-profits that are working to fight hunger,” said state Sen. Joanne M. Comerford, D-Northampton. “These grants have strengthened our food system, enabling these organizations to expand their work at a time when food insecurity rates were spiking.”