While we’re working to meet an immediate need for fresh, healthy food, we’re also committed to addressing the root causes of hunger and climate change and building a fairer food system.
We do this through advocacy. Simply put, that means speaking up. We speak up (and encourage others to speak up) on issues that directly affect our work and align with our Core Values & Inclusion Tenets. Anyone can be an advocate.
You can use our Advocacy Priorities below to help you better understand the issues. Then follow this link to look up your own legislators’ contact information. Write them a short e-mail, or give them a call and let them know where you stand! Remember you don’t have to be an expert to speak up!
Have questions? Contact us.
Advocacy Priorities: 2021-2022
In the current Massachusetts legislative session, thousands of bills have been filed. The following list includes those of which:
- relate to or directly affect the work Lovin’ Spoonfuls does,
- expand access to healthy food for Massachusetts residents, or
- align with the Core Values of our organization.
An Act encouraging the donation of food to persons in need
Thousands of tons of edible food is sent to landfills each year because of donors’ concerns about liability, and because diverting it to those who need it can be costly. This bill will provide civil liability protection for persons who donate food directly to consumers, as well as for food establishments that donate food, and a tax credit to Massachusetts farmers in the amount of the fair market value of the donated food, with a $2,000 annual cap per farmer.
Status Update, March 2022: Both bills referred to the chambers’ respective Judiciary Committees in April, hearing held in September 2021. In late February 2022, the House bill (H1702) was reported favorably out of committee to the House Ways & Means Committee, accompanied by S954, S1025, S1063, and S1146.
An Act relative to the promotion of food donation
H2326: Rep. Hannah Kane & Rep. Bradley Jones, Jr.
This bill would require the Department of Public Health to issue guidance regarding best practices for food donation, as well as liability protections for food donation. Promoting the donation of food with businesses can help ensure more food is donated.
Status Update, March 2022: Referred to the House Public Health Committee in April, hearing held in October 2021. As of February, the bill was not reported favorably out of committee, however, the House extended the reporting date through December 31st.
An Act decreasing food waste by standardizing the date labeling of food
Data labels on food are one of the leading causes of food waste, and this bill would establish guidelines requiring only the usage of “Best If Used By” to represent food quality, and “Expires On” to represent food safety. This would create clarity for consumers and lead to less wasted food.
Status Update, March 2022: Senate bill referred to the Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee in April, the hearing was held in November 2021. The bill was referred to the Senate Public Health Committee in January 2022. A hearing was held on January 27, 2022.
The House bill was referred to the Public Health Committee, and a hearing was held in October 2021. As of February, the bills were not reported favorably out of committee, however, both chambers extended the reporting date through December 31st. In March 2022, the bill was referred to a study order, effectively closing debate on this bill for this session.
An act supporting the Commonwealth’s food system
H884: Rep. Daniel Donahue
Many state agencies play roles in supporting and regulating the food system, but because of limited communication between them some of these efforts are duplicative, inefficient, or even contradictory. The launch of the Food Security Task Force as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the need for such coordination, but that need is not limited to times of crisis. This bill will establish a state food system coordinator position to serve in an advisory capacity to all agencies to coordinate and inventory food programs, and develop and track metrics related to food system goals.
Status Update, February 2022: Bill referred to the House Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture Committee in April 2021, hearing held in November 2021. As of February 2022, the bill was not reported favorably out of committee.
An Act concerning Food Insecurity and Supporting the Restaurant Industry
The Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) will allow low income Massachusetts residents who are age 60 or older, have a severe disability or are homeless to use their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) EBT benefits to buy nutritious prepared meals at participating restaurants. Many residents struggle with being able to cook and prepare nutritious meals for themselves, especially if they lack cooking facilities, have mobility challenges and/or difficulty preparing hot food.
Status Update, February 2022: Both bills referred to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities in April 2021, where a hearing was held in September 2021. The bill was referred to a study order in January 2022.
An Act relative to an agricultural healthy incentives program
The Healthy Incentives Program leverages federal SNAP funds by incentivizing SNAP recipients’ purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables directly from farmers, improving health outcomes for vulnerable communities and increasing sales for local farms. This bill will establish the framework for the program’s long-term sustainability.
Status Update, February 2022: Both bills referred to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities in April, where a hearing was held in September 2021. MFSC leads Campaign for HIP funding. As of February, the bills were reported favorably out of committee to the Health Care Financing Committee. In April, the bills were reported favorably out of committee to the Senate Ways & Means committee.
An Act to Streamline Access to Critical Public Health and Safety-net Programs through Common Applications
The SNAP Gap is the difference between the number of low-income Massachusetts residents receiving MassHealth who are likely SNAP eligible and the number of people actually receiving SNAP. In Massachusetts, the size of this gap is over 700,000 residents (based on state data from December 2020). For many years the state has administered these food and health programs separately. This means the application process and collection of documents is duplicated for both MassHealth and SNAP. This creates more work for the state and for low-income households. Most states implement a single eligibility system. It’s time to close the SNAP Gap in Massachusetts!
Status Update, February 2022: Both bills referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in April. A hearing was held on July 20, 2021. SNAP Gap Coalition led by Mass Law Reform Institute (MLRI). In November 2021, the bills were reported favorably out of committee, to the House Ways & Means Committee.
An Act Relative to Universal School Meals
As a result of flexibilities granted in response to the pandemic, every student in Massachusetts currently has access to free school meals. The focus has turned from income verifications and paperwork to simply ensuring that every child has the nutrition that they need. This barrier was temporarily broken down at the federal level because this crisis put a spotlight on the need to ensure the right to the most basic of necessities – food – for all kids.
As we work toward recovery from this crisis and beyond, we cannot let this barrier go back up. We have an opportunity to ensure that all students continue to receive the nutrition they need while they are in school – ending stigma, supporting school nutrition programs, and encouraging success for Massachusetts students.
Status Update, February 2022: Both bills referred to the Joint Committee on Education in April, where a hearing was held in January 2022. In February 2022, the reporting date was extended to June 1, 2022. In the House budget released in April, funding was allocated for the FY2023 budget to support school meals for all. The campaign continues to make this permanent through this bill. Learn more from Project Bread.
An Act Relative to Establishing a Food and Health Pilot Program
This bill would require the Office of Medicaid (MassHealth) to establish a Food and Health Pilot Program that equips health care systems to connect MassHealth enrollees with diet-related health conditions to one of three appropriate nutrition services, with the expectation that health outcomes will improve and cost of care will decrease.
Status Update, February 2022: Referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health in April 2021, where a hearing was held in October 2021. As of February 2022, the bills were not reported favorably out of committee. In March 2022, the reporting date was extended to June 1, 2022. Learn more from Food Is Medicine MA.
Thank you to Massachusetts Food Systems Collaborative, Central West Justice Center, Food is Medicine Massachusetts, Project Bread, and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute for sharing these initiatives!