Cambridge City
MA

Policy Order
POR 2020 #287
Order Adopted
Dec 7, 2020 5:30 PM

Supporting Food Pantries & Closing the SNAP Gap PO

Information

Department:City Clerk's Office, AMSponsors:Vice Mayor Alanna Mallon, Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, Councillor Marc C. McGovern
Category:Policy Order

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WHEREAS:

As the pandemic has caused widespread layoffs and business closures, food insecurity has skyrocketed, with Massachusetts experiencing the highest increase in food insecurity of any state across the country, rising from 1 in 13 Massachusetts residents being food insecure pre-pandemic, to 1 in 7 residents currently, a 59% increase; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

Food insecurity has drastically increased within the two Congressional districts Cambridge is a part of as well, with the Seventh Congressional District rising from 13.7% in 2018 to 18.8% in 2020, and the Fifth Congressional District rising from 6.9% in 2018 to 12.0% in 2020; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

Food insecurity in Cambridge is currently estimated by the Greater Boston Food Bank to be 13% of all residents, or approximately 15,000 residents; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

With community need soaring, especially around the holidays, food pantries are struggling to keep up; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

The Greater Boston Food Bank, for example, currently distributes 2.5 million pounds of food to 660,000 people each week, significantly more than the 1 million pounds of food they distributed to 415,000 people each week before this public health crisis began, and the numbers have only been growing; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

Anecdotally, food pantries in Cambridge are reporting a 10-15% increase in food pantry usage in recent months, and use has been increasing steadily as we head into what is likely to be another COVID-19 surge, with many unemployment benefits due to expire on December 31, 2020; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

In order to meaningfully intervene and help fight food insecurity in our community during this critical time, we must learn more about what our local food pantries are experiencing and how the City can support them as they fill in this critical resource gap; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

7,338 residents are impacted by the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Gap, which is the difference between the number of low-income residents receiving MassHealth who are likely SNAP eligible and the number of people actually receiving SNAP, creating a City-wide SNAP Gap of 46%; and

 

 

WHEREAS:

One way the City may help alleviate the skyrocketing burden on local food pantries is by launching an educational outreach campaign to close the SNAP Gap in Cambridge and encourage more low-income residents to take advantage of long-term, sustainable government assistance programs; now therefore be it

 

 

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Department of Human Service Programs, Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee (CEOC), local food pantries, and food access organizations to gain firsthand insight on what these organizations are seeing on the ground, and to develop ways to provide increased support for the food pantry network; and be it further

 

 

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to confer with the Department of Human Service Programs, the Public Information Office, and other relevant City departments to develop a comprehensive outreach campaign centered on closing the SNAP Gap in Cambridge, and educating low-income residents on how they may access government assistance benefits; and be it further

 

 

ORDERED:

That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back on this matter by the December 21st regular City Council meeting.

 

Meeting History

Dec 7, 2020 5:30 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting
draft Draft
RESULT:ORDER ADOPTED [UNANIMOUS]
YEAS:Dennis J. Carlone, Patricia Nolan, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, Alanna Mallon, Marc C. McGovern, Sumbul Siddiqui, E. Denise Simmons, Timothy J. Toomey, Quinton Zondervan