BOSTON – Wednesday, October 2, 2019 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the release of his Food Access Agenda to assess existing food access initiatives and deliver actionable recommendations to fill gaps. The Agenda will guide the City’s work to ensure everyone has equitable access to affordable, fresh, healthy, and culturally-connected foods and end food insecurity in Boston by 2030.
“In Boston, we believe that having access to food is a right, not a privilege. Our Food Access Agenda builds off the important work that our Office of Food Access is doing to help make fresh, healthy food more affordable and more accessible across all of our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Walsh. “I thank the many partners who helped guide our Food Access Agenda, and especially the Boston Food Access Council for moving it forward. Working together, we can end food insecurity in Boston and we can lead a movement to end hunger in America.”
The Food Access Agenda is a result of 30 stakeholder interviews and a Food Access Summit, where dozens of partners from the Greater Boston area were invited to review and contribute to this agenda. The Agenda outlines five strategic goals that will guide the City to enhance existing programs and services, and fill critical gaps to end food insecurity by 2030:
Ensure food access issues are prioritized within community organizations, City agencies, and other key partners, emphasizing a racial equity and resilience lens;
Strengthen the citywide food access network by developing shared resources and strategic collaboration opportunities;
Develop and support a policy and advocacy agenda to eliminate food insecurity;
Build public awareness of food insecurity and available resources, programs, and services; and,
Implement strategies to make healthy and fresh foods more affordable and accessible throughout Boston.
The City will work to accomplish its goal of ending food insecurity by 2030 by leading and implementing its own initiatives, as well as leveraging new and existing partnerships and assets throughout the City.
“It is with great pleasure that we partner with the Mayor and his Office of Food Access on addressing the issues around food insecurity everyday in our city,” said Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of The Greater Boston Food Bank. “We partner with 132 hunger-relief partners across the city who assist us with feeding the almost 1 in 5residents of Boston who struggle with accessing quality and nutritious food. We thank the City for standing with us in making this issue a matter of public health.”
Some of the work that will be accomplished through this agenda include restructuring the Boston Food Access Council (BFAC) to reach strategic goals by 2021, partnering with community health centers to implement a comprehensive process for sharing resources with all Bostonians, and partnering with Boston Public Schools and others to implement programs that improve the underperforming participation and consumption of all school meals.
The Boston Food Access Council (BFAC) will create a network of different stakeholders working in food insecurity, including food aid providers, health providers, and community organizations to identify opportunities for partnerships and strengthen and amplify the City’s goal of ending food insecurity by 2030 and beyond.
“Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition (MFFC) is excited to see the execution of the five strategies in this plan. Food insecurity and food access is an important issue that many Boston communities face. We look forward to being one of many voices working to help shape the implementation of the plan,” said Shavel’le Olivier, MFFC Executive Director.
In 2016, Mayor Walsh rebranded the Mayor’s Office of Food Initiatives as the Mayor’s Office of Food Access (OFA). The new name signifies a shift in its mission to focus more intentionally on addressing food access challenges that many low-income Bostonians face on a daily basis. Since then, OFA has expanded the reach of the office to include programs such as Boston Summer Eats, BOSFoodLove Program, and Boston Double Up Food Bucks. Each program works to further improve equitable access to nutritious food with respect to affordability, physical accessibility, and cultural connectedness.