- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Awards Over $920,000 in Grants to Local Food Ventures
Holyoke — The Baker-Polito Administration today announced that the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has awarded $920,700 to five agricultural groups through the Massachusetts Food Ventures Program (MFVP), a new grant program intended to address food access and expansion of economic opportunities through new food ventures and enterprises throughout the state.
“The innovative groups receiving these grants create quality local jobs and connect underserved communities with fresh and healthy food,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “With this new grant program, we plan to increase access to healthy, affordable food options and improve economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income communities.”
“New agricultural enterprises drive economic growth and provide opportunities for job creation and entrepreneurship in the Commonwealth’s growing agriculture and food industries,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By providing these ventures with financial assistance, our administration continues its efforts to support Massachusetts agriculture and promote sustainable local food options.”
The MFVP, part of the 2014 Environmental Bond Bill and funded for the first time in the 2017 Capital Plan, provides financial support to food ventures, sited primarily in or near communities of low- or moderate-income, including Gateway Cities and rural communities. With expanded investment, completed projects will improve access to Massachusetts-grown, harvested or caught food products through the development of collaborations with local agricultural enterprises and private/public entities. The program will also help implement the goals of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan.
“These agricultural ventures create great job opportunities in low-income communities while also encouraging healthier local food systems,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “By strategically investing in infrastructure for local food production, this new grant program allows us to implement the goals of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan, help local agricultural enterprises thrive and ensure underserved communities have access to nutritious Massachusetts-grown products.”
Funded projects include new construction that will create temporary and full-time employment, as well as create facilities that will foster job creation and expansion of food access and distribution in low- to moderate-income areas.
“The increased access to healthy, Massachusetts grown food that the Massachusetts Food Ventures Program (MFVP) provides offers substantial benefits on multiple levels,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “MFVP provides for increased food choices to be made available to Commonwealth residents, particularly in communities of low- or moderate-income; it encourages jobs and entrepreneurship; and lastly, it greatly improves post-harvest opportunities for farmers.”
Key areas for investment for the MFVP are food processing infrastructure to meet the needs of the expanding local food system; improved distribution systems to support opportunities for equitable access to fresh local food; and retail outlet strategies that enhance access to healthy food.
The following groups received grants:
Commonwealth Kitchen (Dorchester - $170,000)
Commonwealth Kitchen will use their award to invest in specialized equipment and infrastructure improvements in order to expand their contract manufacturing enterprise to produce value-added products to serve Boston’s institutional markets. They will also process gleaned and surplus and produce simple, minimally-processed products to feed low-income and food insecure families.
Franklin County Community Development Corporation (Greenfield - $250,000)
Franklin Country Community Development Corporation will use their award to expand capacity at their food processing center and create infrastructure by constructing a cold storage unit and purchasing additional equipment needed to increase opportunities for food businesses to start and grow. This infrastructure will increase the amount of locally grown vegetables that are frozen right after harvest and will be sold and distributed during the off season months.
Nuestras Raices (Holyoke - $174,000)
Nuestra Raices will use their award for the construction and launch of a handicapped-accessible Mobile Market with refrigeration and freezer, a food transport truck and a commercial wash station. The increased infrastructure is anticipated to spur economic opportunity regionally, increase market opportunities for local farmers and create 50 new jobs, as well as additional training opportunities.
The Livestock Institute of Southern New England (Westport - $250,000)
The Livestock Institute of Southern New England will use their award for construction costs associated with building of a state-of-the-art slaughter house and process facility. The project will also provide educational, job creation and training opportunities for residents with regards to safe and humane handling and slaughtering techniques as well as job training for butchering.
World Farmers (Lancaster - $76,700)
World Farmers will use their award to improve access to established farming infrastructure for the 250 immigrant and refugee farmers at Flats Mentor Farm and in turn increase agricultural production and marketing capacity. The funding for this project will purchase a walk-in cooler and refrigerated trailer, a commercial food hydrator, vacuum-sealed packaging unit and corn miller and a refrigerated van, thus providing opportunities for farmers to increase access to regionally produced foods and increased market distribution.
“I am proud to support Nuestra Raices, as they play a key role in providing fresh, healthy food to the citizens of Holyoke,” said State Senator Donald Humason (R-Westfield). “This grant will not only help them expand, but will also create many new jobs. I thank the Baker-Polito Administration for their investment in Nuestra Raices and the citizens of Holyoke.”
“I am excited to see Nuestas Raices receive both the recognition and the support for the great work they are doing in the community around food access issues,” said State Representative Aaron Vega (D-Holyoke). “Additionally it is great to see the creation of jobs and economic development opportunities for the residents of Holyoke.”
“Improving food access and providing healthy options in rural communities for low-and moderate-income families will strengthen and innovate our rural economy, giving farmers and small business owners the tools they need to thrive in Franklin County,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst). “We must continue to revolutionize our agricultural enterprises to create an abundance of economic opportunities throughout the Commonwealth.”
“I support the important work of MDAR in providing new pathways to get quality food grown and harvested by our farmers to people who need it the most,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “I am hopeful that this investment will spur even more points of access to meet food insecurity issues so many people face.”
“This grant will help the Franklin County CDC continue to grow and expand the services it is able to offer in support of local food producers and local farmers,” said State Representative Paul Mark (D-Peru). “I am grateful to the administration for recognizing the importance of sustainable, local agriculture to the economy in rural areas like Greenfield.”
“As consumers are more inquisitive about where their food is coming from and how it is produced, the Administration led the way to create increased opportunities for our residents to better access locally produced, healthy food,” said State Representative Paul Schmid III (D-Westport), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. “Congratulations to the Livestock Institute of Southern New England in Westport on their award of $250,000 to construct a much needed state-of-the-art slaughter house and process facility to better serve meat producers on the South Coast.”
“The Massachusetts Food Ventures Program grant will help Westport strengthen and modernize its agricultural economy,” said State Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport). “This grant will allow the Livestock Institute of Southern New England to invest in technological and infrastructure improvements, resulting in increased efficiency, job training, and economic growth.”
MDAR’s goals have been to increase and sustain the capacity of local food producers and enterprises to provide tangible, measurable benefits to residents in low-moderate income communities which include: increased access to healthy fresh food, entrepreneurial opportunities, economic enhancement, and increased access to Massachusetts produced foods.
DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr, and/or follow at twitter.com/mdarcommish.