A food bank volunteer packs a box of food.

Responding to a spike in food insecurity across the Commonwealth as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s Covid-19 Command Center has launched a Food Security Task Force.

The task force’s mandate is to coordinate resources and communication around food insecurity, meet urgent food shortage needs, identify and strategically address gaps in the food chain, plan for the short- and medium-term future, and identify metrics to measure food insecurity, gather the appropriate data, and monitor on a regular basis.

The group is co-chaired by Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Director Samantha Phillips, Department of Transitional Assistance Commissioner Amy Kershaw, and Mary Joyce of the Command Center staff. Legislative liaisons are Sen. Jo Comerford and Rep. Hannah Kane.

According to a report in the Boston Globe, the Greater Boston Food Bank, New England’s largest hunger relief organization, has seen a 50% increase in demand over this time last year.

Task force members have been divided into three workgroups: identifying immediate needs; enhancing access to, and enrollment and participation in food assistance programs; and addressing the capacity and resiliency of the existing food supply chain.

The task force is working to refine the recommendations offered by each of the three workgroups and report them back to the COVID-19 Command Center.

The MMA has a seat on the task force, currently held by Legislative Analyst Ariela Lovett, who is participating in the immediate needs workgroup. To share local needs or engage in the work of the task force, contact her at alovett@mma.org.

Written by