For Immediate Release - April 07, 2011

PATRICK-MURRAY ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES ESTABLISHMENT OF MASSACHUSETTS FOOD POLICY COUNCIL

Council announced during Massachusetts Agricultural Day to improve state's food system goals

BOSTON - Thursday, April 7, 2011 - During Massachusetts Agricultural Day at the State House, Governor Deval Patrick today announced the establishment of the Massachusetts Food Policy Council to advance the goals of bringing healthy, local foods to all residents of the Commonwealth.

"I am proud to announce the establishment of the Massachusetts Food Policy Council," said Governor Patrick. "This new Council will be responsible for coordinating our statewide food and agricultural policy, and providing new, focused leadership for this critical sector of our economy."

Following the passage of Chapter 277 of the Acts of 2010, an "Act Establishing the Massachusetts Food Policy Council", the Council was formed to develop recommendations that will advance food system goals and also align communication and coordination between state agencies to achieve these goals.

Increased communication and collaboration between state agencies will be an essential component to the work of the Food Policy Council. In partnership with the Food Policy Council, Governor Patrick has tasked Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray to lead and coordinate the state's efforts to address hunger in Massachusetts.

"Hunger continues to be a major crisis facing many families, with over 615,000 people in Massachusetts at risk every day," said Lt. Governor Murray. "As the Food Policy Council comes together to focus on providing healthy foods, coordinating existing food resources, and streamlining the delivery of services, we can also help families in need gain access to available resources and benefits that will help end hunger in the Commonwealth."

In addition to focusing on ending hunger, legislation calls for the council to focus on achieving the following four goals: (1) increased production, sales and consumption of Massachusetts-grown foods; (2) the development and promotion of programs that deliver healthy Massachusetts-grown goods to Massachusetts residents; (3) the protection of the land and water resources required for sustained local food production; and (4) the training, retention and recruitment of farmers and providing for the continued economic viability of local food production, processing and distribution in the Commonwealth.

The Food Policy Council was launched today during Massachusetts Agricultural Day at the State House. Governor Patrick and Administration officials joined farmers, agriculture officials, and state legislators from across the Commonwealth to discuss issues affecting their farms and communities. The event also included the "Taste of Massachusetts" reception, where state farm and specialty food products were showcased.

"Food is among the most universal needs for our residents, and unfortunately, signs of increased food insecurity appear in Boston and across the Commonwealth," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. "I have pushed for the establishment of a statewide food policy council to help provide better access to healthy and affordable foods in our schools, households, and neighborhoods."

"We want to promote health and vitality for all of our citizens, and the Food Policy Council will help lead the way. Local food production helps grow the economy, reduce pollution, and is a sure fire way to help people live well," said Senator Susan Fargo.

"I am very pleased that Governor Patrick has moved forward with the formation of the MA Food Policy Council. This Council will develop and promote programs that bring healthy local foods to Massachusetts residents and increase access to those foods in communities that are disproportionately affected by obesity and chronic diseases. The use of Massachusetts agriculture will also support local small business throughout our commonwealth," said Representative Linda Dorcena Forry.

Department of Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach, Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Julia Kehoe, and Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Scott J. Soares are among the ex-officio members of the Council. Governor-appointed members, including: John Lee of Carlisle, Manuel Costa of Winchester, Jeffrey Cole of Sutton, Franklyn Carlson of Harvard, and Valerie Bassett of Jamaica Plain will be sworn in at the Council's first meeting. Once convened, members will elect a chair of the Council for a term not to exceed two years.

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