Today , the Massachusetts Senate released its budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2024, which includes critical provisions that will address food insecurity in our state.
These provisions include:
$900,000 for Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline to better support individuals and families seeking food assistance and connect more eligible households to federal nutrition programs.
$700,000 for Project Bread’s Child Nutrition Outreach Program to support schools and community programs to better serve children by increasing access to school and summer meals.
An additional $5 million for the Healthy Incentives Program to boost the purchasing power of households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits to buy local fruits and vegetables. A great starting point, but advocates have identified the need for $14 million in new funding.
A 10% increase to the Transitional Aid for Families with Dependent Children to ensure fewer families live in deep poverty and are able to purchase everyday necessities starting in April 2024.
We thank the leadership of our partners in the Senate, particularly Senator Sal DiDomenico, who has long been an advocate for families in Massachusetts, as well as Senate President Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, Vice Chair Cindy Friedman, and Assistant Vice Chair Jo Comerford for their leadership on these investments. We look forward to working together to support and build upon these programs in the coming fiscal year.
As proposed, the Senate budget would end the School Meals for All program in Massachusetts at the end of this school year. Project Bread strongly urges the legislature to support the House budget provisions that would make School Meals for All permanent in the final budget. Following implementation of School Meal for All, over 80,000 additional students in Massachusetts ate lunch daily in schools not previously providing universal free meals. These meals are particularly critical because they can account for up to a half of a student's daily nutrition and represent one of the healthiest sources of food available to students.
Once the Senate approves its budget later this month, the House and Senate will then work together on a conference budget that combines their two proposals. We know there is no path to solving childhood hunger that does not include School Meals for All and we urge the legislature to ensure every child has access to school meals at no cost and without stigma.