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February 9, 2016

Anti-hunger groups pushing for $3M funding increase

Courtesy The Worcester County Food Bank located in Shrewsbury

Food bank and charity representatives plan to visit the State House Tuesday to seek increased funding for the Massachusetts Emergency Food Assistance Program.

The program, funded through the Department of Agricultural Resources, functions as a partnership between the state and a private, non-profit network of four regional food banks, supplying locally grown produce to emergency food providers.

In the 2015 fiscal year, about 27 percent, or 20 million pounds, of the food distributed by the Greater Boston Food Bank, Merrimack Valley Food Bank, Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and Worcester County Food Bank was purchased through MEFAP, according to the department.

Gov. Charlie Baker's fiscal 2017 budget proposal allocated $17 million for MEFAP. Its budget was $17,160,000 last year, with $160,000 coming from grants or subsidies. The program's budget has grown by at least $1 million annually from fiscal 2012 to 2016.

At a briefing hosted by Sens. Daniel Wolf and Benjamin Downing, representatives from the Worcester County and Greater Boston food banks will discuss the program and call for a $20 million funding level. Agencies that receive food from the food banks -- My Brother's Keeper, Action for Boston Community Development, the Family Pantry of Cape Cod, the Open Door, Food for Free, and Holyoke's Iglesia el Dios Incomparable -- are also slated to participate in the briefing.

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