BOSTON – Across the US, many are struggling to feed their families, and child hunger has reached crisis levels. In a new round of COVID-19 response grants, The Trustees of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation committed $635,000 to community organizations tackling hunger in Massachusetts and California.
The Foundation sought out organizations in COVID-19 hotspots facing extreme food insecurity and programs that collaborate closely with the people they serve. In April the foundation awarded $100,000 to Boston’s Community Servings to ensure homebound, critically ill individuals had enough to eat and could continue receiving medically tailored meals. The newest projects represent thoughtful efforts to knit together local farmers, the nonprofit community, emergency food providers, urban farmers and local restaurant and bodega owners to provide immediate food relief and work toward long-term economic and social recovery.
“Local communities are forming new partnerships with unexpected allies to aggregate, process, prepare, and distribute food and meals,” said Melinda Marble, executive director of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. “They are involving youth, connecting across sectors and stretching resources. If necessity is the mother of invention, these frontline organizations and partners are building the plane and flying it at the same time.”
To date, the Foundation has awarded 26 grants totaling more than $6.1 million for COVID-19 response efforts in the U.S. and globally. The new grants include:
Commonwealth Kitchen: Commonwealth Kitchen’s CommonTable Initiative is a community-led response to feed neighbors in need by mobilizing local food trucks, restaurants, product companies, and farmers to prepare and distribute meals and fresh food. The organization is working with the YMCA, community health centers, the City of Boston and others to identify those in need. The goal is to provide 8,000-10,000 meals per week in Boston and support continued employment for more than 500 local employees in restaurants, businesses, farmers, and fisheries. Commonwealth Kitchen is Greater Boston’s only nonprofit food business development center, with a mission to build a new food economy grounded in racial, social, and economic justice.
Groundwork Lawrence: The organization brings together residents, young people, city officials, schools, and other nonprofits in Lawrence, MA to undertake community-driven initiatives focused on building a healthier, stronger, more vibrant city. With this grant, Groundwork Lawrence will expand its new food access programs, including a grab ‘n go healthy meals program, local fruit and produce bags, and a virtual Farmer’s Market. In the coming months, they will work with partners to provide 1,600 healthy cooked meals each week distributed to families and individuals in need and hundreds of bags of fresh produce from local farmers.
Planting Justice: The California non-profit empowers people impacted by mass incarceration and other social inequities with the skills and resources to cultivate food sovereignty, economic justice, and community healing. This grant supports the build out of their new farming infrastructure, scale-up of smoothie production and distribution through the summer months, and creates a touchless vegetable distribution program to replace the on-site farm stand.
The Food Project: This grant supports the Lynn Food Security Task Force in Massachusetts to leverage local farmers, bodegas, grocers, restaurants, mobile farmer’s markets, and others to provide healthy and fresh food for anyone in need. They aim to increase the numbers of people using food benefits at farmer’s markets, mobile markets and touchless CSA’s. In addition, the project will make fresh food more conveniently available to people through bodegas and local grocery stores and help restore the local restaurant economy that is helping to feed the community.
Urban Tilth: Based in Contra Costa County, CA, Urban Tilth helps its community grow its own food; trains and employs young people as “home grown experts”; teaches local residents about the relationships among food, health, poverty, and justice; and forges partnerships with local small farmers to increase demand for their produce. This grant supports Urban Titlth’s capacity to serve its community during Covid and beyond, knowing that even when the pandemic subsides, access to fresh, healthy food is a longstanding need. Among other things. Urban Tilth will increase its Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) distribution to 500 households, connecting local farmers to people in need.
All In Alameda County: In a yearlong project, All In Alameda County and its partners will scale food aggregation, meal preparation and delivery services and launch a web-based platform where organizations and service providers can sign up for meal and food deliveries for homebound and homeless residents. Fresh food from local farms will be aggregated at the food bank for weekly pick-ups and delivery to the various housing facilities. In addition, up to 20 local restaurants will be hired to prepare nutritious, culturally appropriate meals – beginning with 2,000 meals per week – for residents in need.