While we’re working to meet an immediate need for fresh, healthy food, we’re also committed to building a fairer food system by growing support for promising policy solutions that tackle food insecurity and the climate emergency.
We’re speaking up (and encouraging others to speak up) on issues that directly affect our work and align with our Core Values & Inclusion Tenets. That’s what advocacy is all about – and anyone can be an advocate.
Check out our Advocacy Priorities below to help you better understand the issues. Need a general refresher on advocacy? Read our Advocacy 101 blog to learn more about why speaking up is important, who to contact when you advocate, and what to say.
Want to know when there are opportunities to speak up on issues related to wasted food and hunger? We’ll tell you!
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
S954: Sen. Jo Comerford / H1702: Rep. Hannah Kane
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 2021, 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, September 2022: Referred to the House Public Health Committee in April 2021, hearing held in October 2021. As of February 2022, the bill was not reported favorably out of committee, however, the House extended the reporting date through December 31st, 2022. In September 2022, the bill was referred to a study order, effectively closing debate on this bill for this session.
An Act decreasing food waste by standardizing the date labeling of food
S567: Sen. Edward Kennedy / H2327: Rep. Hannah Kane
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 2021, 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 2022, the bills were not reported favorably out of committee, however, both chambers extended the reporting date through December 31st, 2022. 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
S118: Sen. Edward Kennedy / H207: Rep. Daniel Donohue
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
S108: Sen. Anne Gobi / H250: Rep. Paul Mark
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, August 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. MFSC leads Campaign for HIP funding. In February 2022, the bills were reported favorably out of committee to the Health Care Financing Committee. In April 2022, the bills were reported favorably out of committee to the Senate Ways & Means committee. HIP advocates secured a total of $24M in funding in the FY2023 budget signed by Governor Baker.
An Act to Streamline Access to Critical Public Health and Safety-net Programs through Common Applications
S761: Sen. Sal DiDomenico / H1290: Rep. Jay Livingstone
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, August 2022: Both bills referred to the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing in April 2021. A hearing was held on July 20, 2021. View the recording here. The SNAP Gap Coalition, which has advocated for this change, is led by MLRI. In November 2021, the bills were reported favorably out of committee, to the House Ways & Means Committee.
At the end of July 2022, Bill 5108 was drafted and enacted as part of the General Appropriations bill. The Governor signed the legislation on August 10, 2022. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) has now implemented a simple checkbox onto the MassHealthConnector application and renewal portal. MA residents can now apply for SNAP benefits when seeking subsidized healthcare coverage or doing a renewal!
An Act Relative to Universal School Meals
S314: Sen. Sal DiDomenico / H714: Rep. Andres X. Vargas
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, July 2022: Both bills referred to the Joint Committee on Education in April 2021, where a hearing was held in January 2022. Campaign active via Project Bread. In February 2022, the reporting date was extended to June 1, 2022. In June 2022, the reporting date was extended to July 31, 2022. The reporting date for the bill to make this permanent has since passed. However, in the FY23 budget signed by Governor Baker, Universal School Meals were funded.
An Act Relative to Establishing a Food and Health Pilot Program
S1403: Sen. Julian Cyr / H2298: Rep. Denise Garlick
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, March 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 reported favorably out of committee to the Health Care Financing Committee. In March 2022, the reporting date was extended to June 1, 2022, and that date has since passed. 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!
Have questions? Contact us.