Issue #25 | December 2021

Supporting collective action
toward an equitable, sustainable, resilient, and connected local
food system in Massachusetts.

Things you can do right now to
support systemic policy change.
Support HIP funding

Governor Baker is developing his FY23 budget. Please email and call his office and ask him to include $20 million for HIP! For more information, contact Becca Miller.

Learn about campaigns and advocacy

Advocates from the Collaborative, Project Bread, and other food system organizations will give updates on legislative campaigns at a virtual Forum session on Wednesday, December 8 from 10am to noon, followed by an advocacy training. Register here.
Highlights of the
Collaborative's work.
HIP serving more people than ever

In the first four months of the state's fiscal year that began in July almost $5 million was earned in HIP incentives! This means more low-income families will be enjoying fresh, healthy, local food on their holiday tables this year, as program usage has increased more than 33% over the same time last year. Nearly 15,000 new households used the program during that time, and more than 30,000 SNAP customers used the program each month, the most ever.

That success is due, in part, to the efforts of hundreds of farmers and organizations around the state who have advocated for the program over the last six years, leading to more than $47 million in state investments in the program. The Campaign for HIP Funding, which the Collaborative leads, will build off previous years’ successes and advocate for $20 million for HIP in the state’s fiscal year 2023 budget. This amount will support year-round program operation, continued growth in SNAP recipients utilizing the program, and provide enough resources to allow DTA to bring on new farmer vendors in underserved areas. If you haven’t signed on to be a member of the campaign coalition, please do so here

The Campaign needs strong advocates to champion this ask next year, so we encourage coalition members to collect stories and data on how HIP has affected your household, farm, farmers’ market, organization, and community this year. Stories about how the program is operating on the ground, coupled with data, help make a strong case to legislators and have been an essential part of the Campaign’s success. A template to share HIP stories on a postcard that can be mailed to legislators can be found here.
Join the 2021 MA Food System Virtual Forum 

The 2021 MA Food System Forum begins on Friday with a Keynote address from Jessica O’Neill, Executive Director of Just Roots. The Forum continues next week and will include discussions about some of the most pressing issues facing the food system in Massachusetts, as well as the opportunity to strategize about how to best address them together. Please register for each session you would like to attend via the provided links; see our website for more information about each panel.

Agenda and Registration Links

Friday, December 3             
10:30 - 12:00: Keynote: Stop monocropping food system solutions: If you wouldn’t grow that way, why work that way? - Register Here

Monday, December 6              
10:30 - 12:00: The power of locally controlled food supply chains - Register Here
1:00 - 2:30: Lessons from municipal food system policy campaigns - Register Here     

Tuesday, December 7                         
10:30 - 12:00: Farming in the face of climate change - Register Here 
1:00 - 2:30: Strengthening community-led food system work - Register Here

Wednesday, December 8             
10:00 - 12:00: MA Food System policy advocacy: Current campaigns and advocacy skill-building - Register Here   
1:00 - 2:30: Balancing emergency response and systemic solutions to food insecurity - Register Here

Thursday, December 9             
10:30 - 12:00: Being an Ally: Collaborating with and Empowering BIPOC Partners - Register Here
1:00 - 2:30: Expanding food system education in K-12 schools - Register Here


Registration for all Forum events is free, thanks to our sponsors:
Inspiring work being done by some
of our friends in Massachusetts.
HIP farm Sibling Organic Crops is committed to feeding their community

Jor Her owns and operates Sibling Organic Crops, a small farm that grows amaranth, lalo, bok choy, yu choy, lemongrass, mustard greens, squash, and more. Jor lives and farms in Brockton and became HIP authorized in 2020. Prior to being a HIP farmer his customers could access the program at the Brockton farmers’ market where the market manager would process transactions for him. He also sells at the Waltham and Ashmont farmers’ markets. 

“I really appreciate that the state has this program that supports small farmers and the community,” Jor said. “It works really well. Hopefully the government will keep this program around for a long time. My customers say they depend on my produce each week, they love it.”

Jor wants to help and give back to the community as he can by growing using organic practices. “We import a lot of vegetables into this state and we don’t have control over their growing practices. That’s why we’re small farmers. We can eat what we plant and feel good about it. We don’t store anything for long - we pick our crops fresh the night before and sell it the next day at the market.” 

Unfortunately, due to the excessive rain this year, Jor had to do multiple plantings to make sure his crops survived, and July 27th was the first day he had produce available for customers. He was only able to attend the Ashmont and Waltham markets this year, which he can work into his schedule around childcare and an off-farm job. He limited what each customer could purchase to one or two of each item so everyone had access, and customers could purchase more after everyone was served once. His customers usually line up before the market starts to buy his product, and travel from neighboring towns to stock up. Jor’s hope for next year is to find more land to increase his operation so he can grow more produce and sell to more customers!

(Photo courtesy of Ashmont Farmers’ Market)
Thoughtful insights about
food system issues.
Southeastern Massachusetts Food System Assessment

In order to better understand the local food system in Bristol, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties, the Marion Institute has published the Southeastern Massachusetts Food System Assessment. The goals of the report included understanding the area’s food system assets and the related trends and challenges. The report also identifies places where policy could improve the local food system and brings attention to how the region could connect to statewide and regional food planning work. The report highlights the importance of the food economy in the area, which has numerous ports and farms. In addition, the report found that there are more than 11,000 total food and beverage stores, food services and drinking places, food manufacturing businesses, and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting entities in the region, and more than 200,000 people are employed in these sectors in the Southeast. 

Community Food Assessments are valuable tools to enumerate and evaluate the food-related strengths and opportunities in a community, and can help guide food system work. The Collaborative has listed many plans here and encourages communities to consider conducting their own assessment process as part of their local food system work.

The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative envisions a local food system where everyone has access to healthy food, to land to grow food, to good jobs, and to the systems where policy decisions are made. Read more about our vision and our work.