School children cannot learn when they are hungry. Industrial junk food has addicted two generations to cheap and empty calories, creating an epidemic of obesity. Access to fresh food is all but impossible in many neighborhoods, and unaffordable in others. This must be changed.
We hope to raise a new generation of stewards of our environment, but many kids have no idea how the land nourishes them, or where their food comes from. Urban and rural farmers strive to get healthy fresh food to communities but struggle with the economic and physical challenges of making farms work. Our fisheries are imperiled and the working men and women who depend on them are worried about the future. All these factors are interconnected.
In Massachusetts we have a strong farm sector with more than 7,000 farms. Food production employs almost 28,000 people. We have been fishing our waters for hundreds of years and, despite tremendous economic and ecological pressures, we maintain world class fisheries. Despite these strengths, food insecurity, food deserts, obesity, and undernourishment plague many of our communities. I endorse the goals of the Massachusetts Local Food Action Plan.
Food ties together our economy, our water, our land, our health, our nutrition, our prosperity, and our independence.
AS GOVERNOR I WILL:
- Increase production and consumption of local food
Expand and improve jobs in the food sector.
Protect the land and water.
Reduce malnutrition and food insecurity.
Create predictable markets with institutional contracts that support local agricultural businesses, and provide fresh foods to schools and hospitals.
Add new processing and storage facilities to support farmers.
Expand school garden programs for kids to learn through garden activities.
Support agricultural research at our state universities and involve our producers in that work.
Explore new methods of pulling nutrition from the sea, creating higher value products, and making a living on the water.
Reduce food waste from farm to table and every stop between.
Encourage composting conferences on the obstacles and opportunities for restaurant, food retail, and institutional food composting.
- Support farm and fishery workers with benefits including health insurance, debt free education, access to capital, and family leave insurance.
Protect land with land trusts, agricultural easements and other strategies.
- Bring Food Justice to our low income communities and communities of color with urban farming, assistance for small grocery stores, and support for local food businesses.