State Senator Sal DiDomenico recently reported that after he spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of his two amendments that would address food insecurity in the Commonwealth, both amendments – totaling $18.9 million – passed the Senate during the debate of S.2564, An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs. This bill outlines a $3.66 billion spending plan investing into key economic sectors in the Commonwealth, such as housing, workforce development, schools and health care systems, using federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and FY21 state revenue surplus funds.
DiDomenico’s amendments secure millions in funding for food security organizations in the Commonwealth. Specifically, one of his amendments supplies The Greater Boston Food Bank with $17 million to use for a multifaceted investment in infrastructure so that they can continue to meet the needs of food-insecure residents in the Greater Boston area, especially his communities of Everett and Chelsea. DiDomenico’s second amendment provides Project Bread with $1.92 million to connect eligible and unenrolled Massachusetts residents with federal nutrition programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through expanded outreach by means of a multifaceted effort, including statewide expanded outreach, increased community engagement, and marketing and promotion campaigns.
Even before COVID-19, there has been an epidemic around food security in the country and in the Commonwealth. At one point during the pandemic, Massachusetts had the highest increase in percentage of people facing food insecurity during the pandemic – going from 8.4 percent of households to 19.6 percent, highest among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) households and homes with children.
DiDomenico spoke on the significance of the work that organizations such as Project Bread and The Greater Boston Food Bank do throughout the Commonwealth. “Residents throughout my district and the Commonwealth relied on food and services provided by the Greater Boston Food Bank and Project Bread during the pandemic,” said DiDomenico. “They have been a lifeline for so many people and I am happy to secure this additional funding so they can continue this important work in our communities.”
The Massachusetts House of Representatives had passed a version of An Act relative to immediate COVID-19 recovery needs on November 2, 2021. The Senate version of this bill (including DiDomenico’s food security amendments) must be reconciled with the House’s version. On November 15 the House and Senate appointed Conference Committees to reconcile the differences in the versions.