Issue #1| May 2017
Working together, toward a sustainable and equitable food system
It has been 16 months since the Massachusetts Food Policy Council accepted the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan, the product of two years of work with input from thousands of Massachusetts organizations, businesses, farmers, and eaters. Since then the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative has been working with allied organizations to promote, monitor, and facilitate implementation of the Plan. That work has included:
  • Coordination of the Working Group on Farming and Public Health (see below).
  • Outreach and fundraising to help launch the Healthy Incentives Program (see below).
  • Facilitating meetings among advocates and practitioners to find ways to work together on key plan goals, like food waste, school food issues, food system economic development, and urban agriculture.
  • Working with the Food Policy Council, state agencies, and the legislature, to help align public programs, regulations and laws with the goals of the Plan.
This new, quarterly newsletter will keep you informed about the work of the Collaborative and other organizations and institutions toward the goals of the Plan. You can also follow progress on our website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Finally, please share this newsletter with your network and help us spread the word about our collective work toward a sustainable and equitable food system!

- Winton Pitcoff, Director
MFSC Project: Working Group on Farming and Public Health
How can regulators protect public health, while supporting the sustainable growth of farms and food businesses? While the planning process did not solve this thorny issue, it did develop a set of recommendations for how to address it. Given the amount of interest in finding solutions to this challenge, the Collaborative chose it as one of its first projects, establishing the Working Group on Farming and Public Health.

Public health and farming advocacy organizations – including Massachusetts Farmers Markets, Massachusetts Farm Bureau, Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, and Massachusetts Public Health Association – along with practitioners and public agencies, participated in the process, and developed a set of recommendations. One of them, a law that would require municipal boards of health to solicit input from local agricultural commissions when considering regulations related to farming, has already resulted in a bill being filed in the MA legislature. Read more.
MFSC Project: Healthy Incentives Program
Launched in April, the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) provides a 100 percent incentive – a dollar-for-dollar match – for each SNAP dollar spent on targeted fruits and vegetables purchased at farmers’ markets, farm stands, mobile markets, and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs statewide. By increasing access to locally grown fruits and vegetables for SNAP clients, the program benefits family and community health, and supports farms and the local economy. The program is funded in part by a $3.4 million grant from USDA, and is led by the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance.

Identified as a priority in the Plan, the Collaborative has been working closely with HIP's leadership on fundraising for the Program, and on developing outreach materials to increase participation from farmers and consumers. We are also advocating for legislation that would codify the program, setting the stage for it to be sustainable beyond the USDA grant period, as well as for a budget line item that would help meet the required match.
MFSC Launches Website: Your input needed!
The MA Food System Collaborative launched our website in January, featuring news on our projects and a collection of resources for food system stakeholders. The centerpiece of the site is a user-friendly version of the MA Local Food Action Plan. Visitors to the site can search the Plan for actions and recommendations, find ways to get engaged in work toward the Plan’s goals, and learn about progress being made. The Plan's action items can be updated with information like links to news items related to the issue, contact information for organizations working on the topic, successful efforts on laws or regulations brought about by these efforts, and more. An example of an action item with added details is here.

To keep the site comprehensive, we want to hear from you! If your organization is working on action items in the Plan, if you see news that relates to a goal or a recommendation, or if you have other information we should use to update an action item, please let us know so we can keep the site as current and comprehensive as possible. Email your thoughts to
MA Food System News: MA a leader in local sales
Data from the first extensive survey of local food sales in the U.S. shows that Massachusetts farmers are national leaders in sales of food products directly to consumers. Massachusetts ranks fifth nationally in direct to consumer sales from farms, with $136 million in sales in 2015 from farmers markets, farmstands, community-supported agriculture (CSA) operations, and other farmer-run retail outlets, according to the USDA’s 2015 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. Read more.
Food System Champion: The Food Project
For more than 25 years The Food Project has been working with teens, providing them with opportunities to cultivate urban and suburban farmland, participate in workshops, work with hunger relief organizations, lead volunteers, and expand community food access. Youth from Greater Boston and the North Shore of eastern Massachusetts tend 70 acres in Beverly, Wenham, Lynn, Boston, and Lincoln. During their time in the program participants grow into increasingly responsible roles with deeply meaningful work, develop an understanding of the food system and its role in the community, and cultivate values of service, food justice, and civic engagement.

The Food Project grows more than 250,000 pounds of produce annually, selling at farmers' markets in Boston, Lynn, and Beverly, and through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program. In addition, The Food Project donates a significant amount of its harvest to food-insecure communities, partnering with local food pantries and meal programs to provide fresh, healthy, local food to families who might otherwise not have access.

In combining sustainable agriculture, land protection in urban areas, youth mentoring and training, and improved access to healthy foods for underserved communities, The Food Project’s systems approach to their work addresses many goals and recommendations in the Plan. Learn more about The Food Project here.
System-changing tool: Municipal strategies for waste reduction
An estimated 900,000 tons of food waste is landfilled in Massachusetts each year, and the Plan presents recommendations for diverting much of this organic material to donations, compost, and energy generation. The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic (FLPC) has released Keeping Food Out of the Landfill: Policy Ideas for States and Localities, a toolkit for advocates, practitioners, and policy makers at the state and municipal level. Topics range from date labeling to waste reduction in schools to food safety in donated food. It’s an excellent companion to the Plan’s recommendations, with very specific ideas for policy solutions, and examples of successes from around the country.
The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative (MFSC) promotes, monitors, and facilitates implementation of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan.  We bring together nonprofit trade and advocacy groups, businesses, academics, policymakers, regulators, and consumers to advance recommendations toward the Plan's goals.
Massachusetts Food System Collaborative |