WCFB believes that food is a fundamental right of all people and that hunger is an issue of social justice. Through advocacy, we engage our partners, communities, and elected officials in creating long term solutions to address the root causes of hunger.
We believe to end hunger we need to support policy changes that:
- Raise Wages and Increase Economic Opportunity
- Support a Healthy and Equitable Food System
- Support and Protect State/Federal Funding for Food Assistance Programs
2018 Public Policy Advocacy Priorities
Worcester’s Urban Agriculture Rezoning Initiative – amending the zoning code will allow commercial urban agricultural activities in the city of Worcester, supporting economic development and the local food system.
Secure Funding for the Healthy Incentive Program (Budget) – The Healthy Incentive Program was launched by DTA and MDAR in April 2017 with a federal grant. The program incentivizes SNAP customers to purchase fruits and vegetables at Massachusetts farmers markets, farm stands, and through CSA programs. The program was so successful that it utilized all the federal funding allocated for three years, in less than one year. This program is economic development, health, and anti-hunger all in one. At least $6.2M in funding is needed for the program to continue in FY19.
$15 Minimum Wage for All Workers (Donahue H.2365/Donnelly S.1004) – Increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2021 would raise the wages of roughly 947,000 workers, or 29 percent of the state’s workforce. Workers who are paid low wages include highly skilled professionals, like nursing assistants, childcare providers, and paramedics. In addition, 20% of all the people in Worcester County who visit a food pantry or meal program are working, but are still not able to make ends meet.
Breakfast in the Classroom (Vega H.327/DiDomenico S.242) – All schools where 60% or more of the students qualify for free and reduced meals will serve breakfast after the bell, in the classroom, thereby ensuring that all students start the day free from hunger. Breakfast in the Classroom programs increase breakfast participation, increase school feeding program bottom lines, reduce nurse visits, and increase academic performance.
Close the “SNAP Gap!” (Livingstone H.101/DiDomenico S.612) – Create a common application for Mass Health and SNAP benefits (as well as other DTA administered benefits), thus improving efficiency and increasing food security for over 570,000 people who are on MassHealth and qualify for SNAP.
Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP) – MEFAP provides a consistent supply of quality, nutrient-rich foods and locally grown fresh produce to residents of the Commonwealth through the four Massachusetts Food Banks and their collective network of 845 food pantries, community meal programs, and shelters.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – SNAP is the first line of defense for people seeking food assistance. We oppose any and all harmful policy proposals including: funding cuts, efforts to block grant or cap funding, impose restrictive work requirements, or otherwise reduce benefits or restrict eligibility or participation. This includes the President’s Budget Proposal, which would restructure the program entirely, resulting in reduced eligibility, reduced benefits, increased costs on states, and reduced local economic impact of SNAP used in local businesses, including grocery stores.
Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act – We support: strengthening Summer Nutrition Programs to meet the needs of children and communities when school is out; continuing to support the momentum of school breakfast expansion in every state; and ensuring more children have a healthy start by improving early childhood nutrition programs.
The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) – Food we receive because of TEFAP makes up approximately 23% of the food we, at WCFB, distribute. We encourage the Secretary of Agriculture to apply bonus TEFAP purchase criteria as generously as possible and to make fruits and vegetables purchases for TEFAP early and often to increase the availability of TEFAP commodities.
Become an Advocate!
- Sign up to receive action alerts from WCFB’s advocacy partners listed above (scroll down to Stay Connected).
- Contact your state and federal elected officials to ask them to support programs and policies like the ones mentioned above that support people in being hunger-free and healthy.
- Share Your Story
WCFB works with partners to achieve its advocacy goals. In 2006, WCFB helped to establish the Worcester Food Policy Council and served as co-chair of its Hunger-Free & Healthy Project from 2007-2012. A WCFB staff member serves as the Council’s Project Director. In addition to the Council, WCFB’s advocacy partners include:
- Food SNAP Coalition, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute [Website]
- Massachusetts Public Health Association [Website]
- Project Bread [Website]
- Food Solutions New England [Website]