Massachusetts Votes to Double Funding for Emergency Food

BOSTON -- Massachusetts legislators recently voted overwhelmingly to increase funding to purchase food for emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters throughout the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Emergency Assistance Food Program will receive a boost in FY2007 from $6.5 to $12 million for the purchase of food to help feed the 464,000 people being served annually by hunger-relief agencies.

"Those of us providing food to hungry people in our state see first hand every day how much the need has continued to increase doubling in less than 10 years," said Catherine D'Amato, president and c.e.o. of The Greater Boston Food Bank, in a statement. "We are grateful that the legislature recognized this critical and growing problem and took action to address it. With this increased funding, the emergency food network will be able to provide more than 31 million meals throughout the state."

Lawmakers last week overwhelmingly overrode governor Mitt Romney's veto reducing the legislature's $12 million MEFAP FY07 allocation to $9 million. The House voted in favor of overriding the governor's veto 141 to 16, and the Senate overrode the veto 38 to 0.

Established in 1993, the MEFAP program enables the four regional food banks in Massachusetts -- The Greater Boston Food Bank, The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, the Worcester County Food Bank, and the Merrimack Valley Food Bank -- to purchase food from Massachusetts manufacturers, distributors, and farmers. All the food is then distributed to a network of over 800 food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters.

From 2001 to 2005, the number of people being served at local food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters increased more than 14 percent. This resulted in a 30 percent rise in meals distributed from 21,875,000 to 28,281,250.
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