LEICESTER — Rep. James P. McGovern stated Massachusetts farms that settle for advantages applications are an necessary a part of combating meals insecurity throughout his tour of a Leicester farm Thursday.
The Worcester Democrat visited Cotyledon Farm in Leicester as a part of his two-day tour of farms in his district, his eleventh annual farm tour. McGovern additionally visited Rising Locations in Leominster and International Village in Grafton Thursday. On Wednesday, McGovern toured farms within the western portion of his district, which has round 1,800 farms.
McGovern stated that the farms he toured took Digital Advantages Switch (EBT) playing cards for fee from recipients of the Supplemental Diet Help Program (SNAP) and are concerned within the Massachusetts Wholesome Incentives Program (HIP), which places a refund in EBT playing cards when the recipient buys wholesome meals.
“Good meals should not simply be accessible to folks of means. Good meals needs to be accessible to all people. It is a basic human proper,” McGovern stated. “I really like coming to those farms as a result of I like the ability it takes to be a farmer — I would most likely final a minute-and-a-half on this farm earlier than I stated ‘sufficient.'”
Packages comparable to SNAP and HIP assist each residents who have to get nutritious meals and farmers who get extra enterprise from the applications, McGovern stated. Winton Pitcoff, director of the Massachusetts Meals System Collaborative, stated that July was the primary month when gross sales by means of HIP have been over $1 million.
Amanda Barker, proprietor and operator of Cotyledon Farm, stated meals banks or meals pantries will usually buy bulk meals the place producers could obtain much less cash than from a direct buy or a community-supported agriculture association.
“Direct-to-sales is the very best relationship for each the buyer and the producer,” Barker stated.
Cotyledon Farm is a 60-acre farm that focuses on combined greens and perennial herbs and primarily makes use of a CSA mannequin.
Recognition of New England and Massachusetts agriculture in D.C. had grown over time, McGovern stated. As a member of the Home Committee on Agriculture, McGovern stated that he has had to discuss the agricultural alternatives within the state, and he desires to deliver Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to Massachusetts to listen to from farmers about areas the place they really feel the federal applications want extra flexibility and doable new applications that higher match New England.
McGovern has also advocated for a brand new White Home Convention on Meals, Diet, Starvation and Well being, which he stated ought to embrace agriculture and farming. Whereas McGovern stated the unique 1969 convention made progress on meals insecurity and created initiatives such because the Ladies, Infants, and Youngsters program, he stated it had flaws that got here from not bringing in a various array of voices that ought to be addressed in a future convention.
McGovern additionally spoke of desirous to not simply contain the U.S. Division of Agriculture in a convention, however each federal company such because the U.S. departments of transportation and vitality in addition to farmers within the non-public sector and nonprofits.
“We wish there to be a extra holistic view. We have to join the dots. As a result of, fairly frankly, the established order is not ok and there are too many individuals on this nation who’re hungry,” McGovern stated. “It was not simply due to the pandemic. Earlier than the pandemic, 37 million folks on this nation have been hungry. All of us needs to be ashamed of that truth and we might do one thing about it.”
Ashley Randle, deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Agricultural Assets, stated that the state has supported funds for meals insecurity grant tasks. Randle stated that cash secured infrastructure enhancements for state farmers comparable to refrigeration. Farmers have additionally obtained extra help than ever earlier than from USDA applications through the COVID-19 pandemic, Randle stated.