City of Revere Commissions ‘Community Food Assessment’ and Urges Support for the MA Food Trust to Address Lack of Healthy Food Access Among Residents
May 8, 2017
Newly released data by the Massachusetts Public Health Association confirms that many residents of Revere lack access to affordable, healthy foods.
Mayor Brian Arrigo and Revere on the Move have been working to address this problem. One of the solutions they have advocated for is the creation of the Massachusetts Food Trust -- a flexible financing tool to help establish, renovate, or expand grocery stores and other fresh food retailers.
In addition, Mayor Arrigo has commissioned a “Community Food Assessment” so that Revere can best leverage and utilize the capital investment that would come with the creation of the Food Trust.
“Too many Revere residents have limited opportunities to buy fresh, healthy and affordable foods,” said Mayor Brian Arrigo. “Through the support of the Massachusetts Food Trust Program, the Revere Farmers’ Market could become a year-round provider of fresh, local food for Revere residents, while creating job opportunities and spurring economic growth. The Massachusetts Food Trust would also encourage investment in other food businesses.”
Over the past two years the Revere Farmers’ Market, funded by both the MGH Revere and Chelsea Health Centers, has been flourishing into a vibrant and intergenerational community space. The market bolsters business development in the city and provides a valuable space for small business incubation.
The market serves as a vital access point to fresh, healthy produce not only for low-income families, seniors, and veterans, but also for students who can get a free lunch through the Summer Meals Program. This season the market will roll out the new Massachusetts Healthy Incentives Program (HIP) which will match SNAP recipients’ purchases of local fruits and vegetables.
Revere on the Move, a Mass in Motion community, which is a co-partnership led by the city’s Healthy Community Initiatives department and the MGH Revere CARES Coalition, has been working in partnership with graduate students from Tufts University Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council to conduct the Community Food Assessment. Their research includes data collection through a city-wide business survey and public workshop.
The newly released information on grocery access reinforces the clear benefits of the Massachusetts Food Trust, an initiative that provides public seed funds to spur private investment in development of new grocery stores and other local food enterprises in high need areas.
The Massachusetts Food Trust Program will support a range of new and expanded healthy food retailers and local food enterprises that meet specific community needs. This program will be crucial in connecting residents in these areas with fresh, healthy food.
Authorized by the state legislature in 2016, the Massachusetts Food Trust Program won approval for $6 million in capital funds and $100,000 in administrative support funds. The Commonwealth is currently determining next steps in overseeing the program and releasing the funds.
Research shows that access to grocery stores is linked to lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases. New food enterprises can address those challenges, while also creating good paying jobs for people with varying levels of skills, education and language proficiency.
The newly released maps and information can be found at: https://mapublichealth.org/priorities/access-to-healthy-affordable-food/ma-food-trust-program/