BOSTON — On Thursday, the State Senate voted to approve a budget amendment proposed by Senator Eric P. Lesser to increase funding to the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program (MEFAP), which buys produce from local farms, including many in Western Massachusetts, to stock the state’s food banks.
The amendment funds the program at $18 million, an increase over the $17.5 million allocated to the program last year.
“This is a vital program for our communities, and I am thrilled the Senate supported an increase in funding this year. Not only does MEFAP provide fresh, healthy food to our residents in need, but it also helps to support the many farms that partner with MEFAP to deliver this food to our Food Banks across the state,” said Sen. Lesser.
MEFAP provides nearly 21 million meals for those in need, and spends millions of dollars each year on fresh vegetables from local farms, making it an important state investment in the Commonwealth’s agricultural economy in addition to essential nutritional assistance for the hungry. Local farms rely on this income and use the investment to grow their businesses and, ultimately, feed more residents.
MEFAP funding is responsible for a fourth of the food that is distributed by the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. A significant number of food recipients are elderly and nearly a third are children.
This is the second year that Sen. Lesser was the lead Senate sponsor on the budget amendment introduced to increase funding for MEFAP. State Representative Ann-Margaret Ferrante of Gloucester was the lead House sponsor.
The amendment will be included in the Senate version of the budget, which will be negotiated with House members before a final budget is sent to the Governor’s desk.