Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Boston Mayor Calls for Greater Access to Healthy Foods

Speaking to Boston's community, health, and policy leaders, Mayor Thomas M. Menino discussed this morning the importance of affordable and accessible healthy food for all of Boston's residents. Mayor Menino stressed that eating patterns are important contributory factors to reducing the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even some cancers. He noted, however, that for many of the city's elderly and low-income residents, it can be difficult to access affordable healthy and fresh foods and urged leaders to come up with a plan to close this disparity.

"Those of you here today have your fingers on the pulse of health and nutrition issues in our city," Mayor Menino said. "I challenge you to determine what role our hospitals and community health centers can play in increasing access to fresh and locally grown food for our city's residents."

Continuing in the long tradition of promoting food production and availability in Boston, Mayor Menino announced that the City of Boston will provide $125,000 in grant money to 97 food pantries in every neighborhood of Boston.

Mayor Menino discussed a myriad of healthy food programs, including his fight to remove unhealthy food from school vending machines, to his work to seed funding for farmer's markets, and finally programs which put more grocery stores in neighborhoods. He also urged local community development corporations, health centers, and community-supported agriculture groups to become partners in order to bring more locally grown fruits and vegetables directly to the city's neighborhoods.

Mayor Menino also called upon state and federal leaders to provide resources for access to fresh and healthy food, pointing to the state of Maine, which last year accessed over $800,000 last year from the federal Senior Farmer's Market Nutrition Program, while Massachusetts only accessed $51,000. Mayor Menino, however, commended Secretary Mike Johanns, the head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, for redrafting of WIC regulations to encourage the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables for mothers and their children.

"I commend the Secretary for this vital initiative and I ask him to make these vouchers available to our local farmers and growers in Boston's farmer's markets," Mayor Menino said. "In the coming year, the Federal Farm Bill will be up for renewal, and it is time that we "green"  the food stamps program, making it more favorable towards a healthier diet, which is consistent with the new Food Guide pyramid. In fact, I'd welcome a visit from the Secretary to discuss these issues and tour our farmer's markets this summer."

Those in attendance at today's conference included representatives from Massachusetts General Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, The Food Project, Project Bread, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, Boston After School and Beyond, and the Boston Public Health Commission.