In a follow-up to the historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health, State Senator Sal DiDomenico joined a panel discussion hosted by The Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), the largest hunger-relief organization in New England, with local leaders to discuss the national strategy announced by President Joe Biden at the conference. The event provided those working to end hunger with a forum to review the key takeaways from the conference and discuss how those recommendations can be implemented here in the Commonwealth to aid the one in three residents who reported experiencing food insecurity in the past year. DiDomenico was joined by Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders, State Representative Andy Vargas, Stop & Shop President Gordon Reid, client advocate Donnette McManus, Roxbury Community College Interim President Dr. Jackie Jenkins-Scott, Roxbury Community College Director of Project Access Lisa Carter and GBFB President/CEO Catherine D’Amato.
“As a longtime advocate of expanding access to nutritious foods, I was honored to join The Greater Boston Food Bank’s event and be a part of this important discussion on food access and nutrition insecurity,” said Senator DiDomenico, who is Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “We have made big strides addressing these issues in Massachusetts but there is still a long way to go until hunger is eliminated and nutritious foods are accessible to all. The White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health and the federal government’s expanded support are great steps toward addressing food and nutrition insecurity in Massachusetts and across the United States.”
“This was the first White House Conference on hunger to be held since I joined The Greater Boston Food Bank 27 years ago, not to mention the first in 50 years,” said D’Amato. “After all this time, it was deeply rewarding to see the issue of hunger elevated to the national spotlight. We applaud the Biden Administration and the bipartisan coalition that made the conference possible. We look forward to continuing to engage with others in the hunger, nutrition, and health community around the resulting national hunger strategy in support of our mission, to end hunger here.”
The underpinning theme and goal of the conference was to elevate the voices of individuals with lived food insecurity experience. In valuing the importance of continued engagement with neighbors most directly impacted, Donnette McManus, a client advocate at GBFB’s partner agency Catholic Charities in Brockton, was invited to be one of the leading voices on the panel. “Food is part of the cycle that fuels everything we do,” said McManus. “The Greater Boston Food Bank, its partners, and the front-line food pantry workers and volunteers give my family the fuel we need to not only consume nutritious foods, but also the desire to serve so that our legacy will be an example of breaking the chain of food insecurities in our community and beyond.”
The power of collaboration was also a theme during the conversation, and it was repeatedly stated that government cannot do it all – they will need bipartisan and private partnerships to achieve their goals.
Senator DiDomenico has been a longtime ally of GBFB, successfully working with the organization and community organizations to secure anti-hunger funding. Some of his legislative endeavors secured this year are universal free school meals throughout Massachusetts, increased funding for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program, creating a common application to increase access to SNAP benefits, and increased cash assistance for families living in poverty. DiDomenico will continue to work with all these partners to advance legislation until food and nutrition insecurity are eliminated in Massachusetts.
Those in need of food assistance are encouraged to visit GBFB.org/need food, where they can find a list of resources and search for a food program by zip code.