An Open Letter to Governor Healey on Solving Hunger in Massachusetts

Project Bread

Policy Work

Nineteen partners from across the Commonwealth have signed on to a letter to Governor Healey, proposing 4 key priorities for the new administration to solve hunger.

To Her Excellency Maura Healey

With the inauguration of your historic administration and your track record of support for critical food security policy solutions, our state has an opportunity to be a national leader in permanently solving hunger.

At the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in September, our state had one of the largest delegations of attendees, including nonprofit leaders, individuals with lived experience, and state legislators. President Biden gave the directive in his opening remarks at the White House Conference to embrace bold solutions that will end hunger in our country by 2030.

Energized by and building upon the momentum of that historic day, the Massachusetts attendees came together around a goal to map out a path to end hunger in Massachusetts by 2030. Massachusetts is already leading on, or on the cusp of, some of the most impactful solutions to hunger, from free school meals for all to integrating food access into health care to awareness building and outreach about the federal nutrition programs. The next steps are an opportunity for you and our state to build on our national leadership and permanently solve hunger in Massachusetts.

In this historic moment, the undersigned 19 attendees, representing advocates, food relief organizations, health care, food retail, agriculture, academics, elected officials, and individuals with lived experience of food insecurity, have identified critical early steps.

These early recommendations, and the roadmap to come, focus on five pillars that must be the focus of any plan to move from responding with food relief to permanently solving hunger in the Commonwealth.

The Five Pillars

  1. Increasing access and improving quality of child nutrition program.
  2. Increasing access and affordability of food for all.
  3. Integrating food access into health care.
  4. Strengthening and integrating the local food system.
  5. Ensure economic stability and promote economic opportunities to address the root causes of hunger.
Three children eating school lunch at a table in the cafeteria

From these five pillars, four immediate priorities emerged for your incoming administration.


  1. Extend and make School Meals for All permanent.
    • School meals can account for nearly half of a student’s daily calories and help set a foundation for educational success as well as improved health outcomes. Before the pandemic, far too many schools were stuck in an outdated tiered eligibility system that creates barriers of paperwork, cost, and stigma. For the last few years, schools, families, and students have experienced a better system where every student is able to receive meals if they want or need them, allowing more than 400,000 students greater access to school meals. An additional 53,744 students participated in school lunch between March 2019 and March 2022. As you said in your inaugural address, hungry students cannot reach their full potential.
  2. Develop and launch a robust Common Application that allows households to simultaneously apply to as many public benefit programs as possible.
    • Currently families or individuals in need of assistance must apply for health care, food, cash, and shelter assistance separately, meaning they must also navigate several systems in order to get the help they need during a time of crisis. While this policy was passed by the legislature as part of the FY2023 budget, the administration will need to work quickly in order to develop a Common Application portal that will streamline this onerous system.
  3. Work with the legislature to adopt policies and appropriate funds to provide additional cash assistance to families through the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Family Tax Credit and larger grants as part of the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) or Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC).
    • While access to sufficient, healthy food is a complicated problem, there are simple truths. The expanded federal Child Tax Credit (CTC) was a proof point that increasing a household’s disposable income can dramatically reduce food insecurity. Using Census Data, Project Bread found that in July 2021, an estimated 70% of households in Massachusetts that received the CTC spent the payment on food, rent, utilities, or debt. The highest category was food, underscoring the importance of cash assistance - like TAFDC and EAEDC - in helping families in Massachusetts meet basic needs.
  4. Appoint a high-level administrative official to coordinate a cross-agency response to ending hunger and promote nutrition as a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to, and Massachusetts’ leadership on, this issue.
    • This official would coordinate across agencies and with legislators and advocates to advance all 5 pillars and work to end hunger in the Commonwealth by 2030. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Department of Agricultural Resources, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Department of Public Health, and Department of Transitional Assistance all play a key role in operating or supporting food security programs. In addition, there are over 1,000 hunger relief organizations in the state. A high-level official can convene key stakeholders to ensure policies and programs are fitting together to permanently solve hunger.

Across all these policy recommendations, we also recommend that the administration partner closely with frontline organizations and individuals with lived experience of food insecurity and poverty when developing, implementing, and evaluating policies to ensure they effectively reach those who most need support.

Moving Forward

We will be convening additional partners and working on a longer-term plan in the coming months. We want to first demonstrate, with you, some early successes here in Massachusetts that will set us on a path to food security for all residents of the Commonwealth and illustrate to all stakeholders that this vision is attainable. Success of any strategy here in Massachusetts will require early progress on these immediate items. We look forward to working with you to collectively achieve them and make Massachusetts a national model for permanently solving hunger.


Project Bread
About Fresh
Boston Medical Center
Children’s HealthWatch
Community Servings
Daily Table
Daniel’s Table
Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University
Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic
Lovin’ Spoonfuls
Massachusetts Food System Collaborative
Maryann Broxton, consultant on multidimensional poverty and hunger
Mass General Brigham
Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Regional Environmental Council of Central MA (REC)
Stone Soup Café
The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts
The Greater Boston Food Bank
Worcester County Food Bank

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