Legislators meet at The Food Bank to discuss regional hunger
Despite our commitment to feed our neighbors in need, we know that food banking alone will not end hunger. That is why we lead the community to advocate for policy change and empower our partners to bring issues of hunger to the forefront. By continuously engaging our elected officials at all levels of government, we can work together to ensure everyone has access to healthy food, regardless of their circumstances.
On Feb. 8, The Food Bank hosted a special orientation breakfast for new western Massachusetts legislators. While many were no strangers to the role The Food Bank plays in the local emergency food network, it provided an opportunity for everyone to learn more about our legislative priorities for the upcoming year and to discuss ways to work together to achieve our common goals.
“We’re so grateful for the tremendous support that we receive from our delegation,” says Christina Maxwell, director of programs at The Food Bank.
To provide a seasoned perspective on how hunger is being addressed at the State House, Rep. Aaron M. Vega (Holyoke) led a discussion about proposed bills that legislators and anti-hunger organizations, including The Food Bank, are hoping will pass through to the House and Senate for final votes. Included in the discussion was Breakfast After the Bell, a bill authored by Vega, that would make it mandatory for qualified low-income schools to provide free morning meals to all students in their classrooms. The program is shown to improve test scores for participating students and reduce stigma for those who would otherwise miss this important meal due to food insecurity at home.
“If we have kids in our programs for eight hours a day, we should feed them,” Vega told his colleagues, “I encourage you all to visit a program if you haven’t yet.”
Thank you to all the legislators and their staff who took time out of their busy schedules to join us at The Food Bank for a tour of our facility and participate in an engaging discussion about food insecurity in our region and its systemic causes:
- Rep. Natalie M. Blais (1st Franklin)
- Rep. Daniel R Carey (2nd Hampshire)
- Sen. Jo Comerford (Franklin, Hampshire)
- Rep. Mindy Domb (3rd Hampshire)
- Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (1st Hampshire)
- Laura Britton (aide – Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, 1st Hampshire)
- Paige Dolinsky (aide – Rep. Paul W. Mark, 2nd Berkshire)
- Jonathan Gould (aide – Sen. Adam G. Hinds, Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire)
- Caroline Merritt (aide – Rep. Joseph F. Wagner, 8th Hampden)
- Eileen Monahan (aide – Rep. Joseph F. Wagner, 8th Hampden)
- Michelle Moriarty (aide – Sen. Don Humason, 2nd Hampden and Hampshire)
- Lily Wallace (aide – Rep. Natalie M. Blais, 1st Franklin)