By Madeleine Aitken
The City of Boston is launching new resources to support residents facing food insecurity and to encourage community involvement with local food pantries, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Thursday, in advance of the beginning of the holiday season.
Through a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), a new kiosk is being added to City Hall where residents can apply for SNAP and cash assistance programs, check their eligibility and balances, and update their information. The kiosk will be located on the mezzanine between the second and third floor at City Hall and opens Tuesday.
“Closing the SNAP gap and providing resources for residents ineligible for SNAP help us ensure that Boston residents can access nutritious and culturally relevant food during chronic and acute periods of food insecurity,” said Aliza Wasserman, director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice (OFJ).
SNAP and the emergency food system are essential, especially as food prices increase. The new DTA kiosk aims to reduce barriers to accessing public benefits and food resources in a way that is both dignified and easy. There are three additional public DTA kiosks in the city, which can be found here.
“Too many families in Boston continue to struggle to provide for their basic needs because of the lingering economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis coupled with the worst inflation we have seen in over 40 years,” said Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO of Greater Boston Food Bank.
The Greater Boston Food Bank found that in 2021, 1 in 3 adults in Massachusetts experienced food insecurity. In fiscal year 2022, it distributed a total of 24.6 million pounds of food through its network of 100-plus food distribution partners in Boston. Much of the success of this system relies on volunteers, as well as additional contributions.
The second part of the city’s initiative is to engage food secure members of the community with food pantries through contributions and volunteering. The Find Your Food Pantry campaign, a collaboration between the OFJ and the Community Engagement Cabinet, encourages residents to find and engage with their local food pantry through contributions or volunteering.
“To prioritize food justice in our City, we’re making it easier to connect residents to services they need and ways to make a difference,” said Wu. “We’re launching a campaign aimed to introduce residents to organizations that do great work in our communities not just during the holidays, but all year.”
The Office of Neighborhood Services (ONS) will be holding “Field Fridays” in November and December to visit community partners, and the Office of Civic Organizing will have signups for residents who would like to be connected to volunteer opportunities. Residents can also sign up online.
“Boston works best when we work together for our shared values,” Chief of Community Engagement Brianna Millor said. “I encourage residents to reach out to their neighborhood organizations and give back — whether that be by donating or spending time volunteering.”
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