Today, at the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations\u2019 35th Anniversary Celebration, Governor Charlie Baker announced the launch of the Baker-Polito Administration\u2019s new Massachusetts Food Trust Program (MFTP), providing $1 million in grant funding to establish a financing infrastructure for organizations working to increase access to healthy, affordable food options and to improve economic opportunities for nutritionally underserved communities across the Commonwealth. \n\n\u201cWith the launch of the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, our administration strengthens its commitment to addressing food insecurity, supporting agriculture and improving access to locally-grown nutritional options for families,\u201d said Governor Charlie Baker. \u201cBy helping to meet the financial needs of fresh food retailers and distributors operating in underserved communities, we can ensure families across the Commonwealth are able to thrive and be healthy.\u201d \n\n\u201cProviding Massachusetts families access to affordable, fresh, healthy food products continues to be a priority for our administration,\u201d said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. \u201cThe Massachusetts Food Trust Program will not only help address food access issues, but stimulate local economies and create jobs by helping innovative local food infrastructure initiatives expand and improve their operations.\u201d\n\nThe MFTP, funded through the Baker-Polito Administration\u2019s Fiscal Year 2018 Capital Investment Plan, will provide funding through grants to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Community Development Corporations (CDCs).This statewide program is designed to meet the financing needs to fresh food retailers and distributors that plan to operate in underserved communities where costs and credit needs cannot be filled solely by conventional financing institutions. \n\n\u201cThe Food Trust Program will help finance organizations that connect Massachusetts farmers and their fresh, healthy products with residents in nutritionally underserved communities across the state,\u201d said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. \u201cIncreasing access to locally grown, caught and harvested food will help expand the market for these products and ensure the continued viability of the Commonwealth\u2019s vital agricultural and fishing industries.\u201d\n\n\u201cWe are thrilled to see the launch of this important initiative,\u201d said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. \u201cOur CDFIs and CDCs \u200bare critical partners in our efforts to support Massachusetts communities, and this program will provide a new resource to improve access to healthy food, close the funding gap for many small businesses, and prioritize the Commonwealth\u0027s agriculture sector\u200b.\u201d\n\n\u201cThis new program will leverage private resources in concert with funding from the administration to increase access to healthy food in the communities that need it most,\u201d said Administration and Finance Secretary Michael J. Heffernan. \u201cWe were pleased to include this program in our capital investment plan as part of the administration\u2019s ongoing work to address food insecurity in underserved communities across the Commonwealth.\u201d\n\nWith the funding, grantees may provide grants, loans and technical assistance to support entities that have shown a meaningful commitment to sell fresh, affordable and local health products, with a preference for Massachusetts-grown, caught or harvested food. Projects that are eligible for funding through the awarded financial institutions include the development, renovation and expansion of supermarkets; commercial community kitchens; commercial greenhouses; retail, restaurant and supporting food distribution hub options.\n\n\u201cThe Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) looks forward to collaborative efforts of successful applicants who demonstrate a meaningful commitment to sell fresh, local products from Massachusetts farmers,\u201d said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. \u201cThe investment in infrastructure for urban and rural-based community-supported agriculture businesses and working capital for equipment will complement MDAR\u2019s successful Food Ventures Program.\u201d\n\n\u201cExpanding access to healthy foods has been a priority of mine and I was proud to support the inclusion of Massachusetts Food Trust funding in the Environmental Bond Bill,\u201d said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. \u201cThank you to Secretary Beaton and the Baker-Polito Administration for the timely release of these funds.\u201d\n\n\u201cThe diversity of projects applicable for grants under the Massachusetts Food Trust Program is key in ensuring we reach folks throughout the Commonwealth, especially in our most underserved communities,\u201d said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox), House Chair of the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture. Having access to healthy, locally produced foods and goods can make a world of difference and I want to thank the Baker-Polito Administration for committing $1 million in grants for this program.\u201d\n\n\u201cI would like to thank the Baker Administration and Speaker DeLeo for making this Massachusetts Food Trust program a priority,\u201d said State Representative Dan Hunt (D-Boston). \u201cFood security in nutritionally underserved communities has been a priority for me in my time in the legislature. It\u2019s critically important to have healthy options for low income families and to do so with dignity. Teaching healthy eating to children will be an historic generational shift in the way we, as a Commonwealth, consume nutritious locally sourced food products in the future. I would also like to thank Maddie Ribble, Director of Policy and Communications at the Massachusetts Public Health Association for his passion and leadership on making the Food Trust a reality.\u201d \n\n\u201cImproving access to supermarkets and other stores that sell healthy and affordable foods is a critical component of a comprehensive strategy to reduce rates of childhood obesity and diet-related diseases, and to create local jobs,\u201d said State Senator Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury), a primary sponsor of this initiative in the Legislature. \u201cThere are too few supermarkets in low-income communities in Massachusetts. In fact, we have the third fewest supermarkets per capita in the Country. I commend the Administration on moving forward with the release of this grant funding to support the Food Trust program, and to ensure the health and economic vitality of our communities.\u201d \n\n\u201cGood nutrition is paramount to the well-being and optimal development of all Massachusetts residents, and the Food Trust Program\u2019s commitment to addressing food insecurity and improving access to affordable and nutritious food options in food desert regions is essential to creating a brighter future for those most in need,\u201d said State Representative Daniel M. Donahue (D-Worcester). \u201cHealthy individuals make for healthy communities.\u201d\n\nA Request of Proposals (RFP) for the MFTP is available here, and responses to the RFP will be due on January 5, 2018.