News from the Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry – April 11, 2017
I think the most disturbing thing I learned last week is that food for low-income folks is considered “discretionary spending” in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Discretionary? Really? Approximately half of the food we distribute at our Pantry is funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through the MEFAP “discretionary” budget line item. These MEFAP foods are vitally needed by more than 500,000 people throughout our State. It provides needed protein, fruits, vegetables, pasta, cereal and dairy products to mention a few. And, our folks depend on it.
Liz Sheehan Castro of the Worcester County Food Bank and Martha Assefa of the Worcester Food Policy Council, invited Denise Darrigrand, one of our clients and me to testify at the State House on Wednesday regarding the budget request for this year. The total line item is currently $17.5 million for the entire State. Given the current federal climate, the Food Banks organized to request $20 million for the upcoming State budget. We went to, hopefully, effect a positive change for low-income people who are hungry throughout the State. Our client, Joyce, did an excellent job bringing lofty budget numbers down to a personal level for Senators and Legislative Aides who attended the hearing. She was wonderful!!!
I was pleased to provide testimony, as well, on how this program personally affects other people. Policy makers call them “food insecure” or “in need of services”. What they really are is hungry. In fact 1 in 9 people in our State are hungry. That number is greater in Worcester where 1 in 6 are hungry.
On Monday, April 10th, the State Budget will be proposed. We’ll see if that $20 million holds up. As the budget moves through the House and Senate expect to hear from me regarding any legislative action you may be inclined to do.
If you ever have any questions about the Pantry, or how you might be able to help, please contact me at .