Walsh, Boston Housing Authority Awards $2.5m in Food Distribution Contracts

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) is launching a $2.5 million partnership with local businesses and nonprofits to distribute hundreds of thousands of meals to its most vulnerable residents through the end of the year.

Leveraging federal aid, the new initiative will help address a variety of short- and long-term nutritional needs for low-income families in Boston’s public housing communities as part of an ongoing City effort. The funding is expected to finance logistical and staffing costs to provide up to 230,000 meals to 4,100 extremely low-income households through at least December 2020.

“Every resident in Boston needs access to food, and this is an opportunity to make sure that our most vulnerable communities continue to get it,” Mayor Walsh said. “This new investment will be a life-changer for countless Boston residents, and we look forward to forging new partnerships to make this happen.”

“Food and shelter are two of the most fundamental basic needs that must be met in order for other opportunities to be possible,” BHA Administrator Kate Bennett said. “We are eager to build upon the City’s food assistance efforts and get these resources into our public housing communities as soon as possible.”

The Boston Housing Authority is committed to utilizing federal aid to directly benefit residents, and the expenditures on food initiatives alone represent roughly 25% of BHA’s federal aid from the CARES Act. Up to $1.689M will be awarded to serve BHA’s federal family sites through a partnership between City Fresh Foods (MBE), Commonwealth Kitchen (woman-led nonprofit business incubator serving numerous MWBEs), the Haley House (a nonprofit social enterprise employing individuals facing barriers to traditional employment), and the YMCA of Greater Boston. Up to $732,000 will provide for direct, door-to-door delivery to seniors facing food insecurity by Boston nonprofit Ethos.

Ethos is also receiving a $500,000 grant from the Boston Resiliency Fund to deliver nutritious meals for those who do not meet the age or impairment threshold for the Title III-C Nutrition Services Program, but are food insecure due to their inability to access or prepare food during the crisis. This grant will serve approximately 850 food insecure adults between the ages of 55 and 60 with underlying health concerns and/or weakened immune systems, who are caregivers for elders or other individuals with disabilities, without reliable and safe transportation, or those whose living situations do not allow for adequate food preparation. In total, Ethos has received over $1 million from the Boston Resiliency Fund to support these efforts, following an initial grant of $559,000 in March. 

“Older adults are some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens and the COVID-19 public health emergency has created unprecedented challenges and disruptions in their lives,” said Valerie Frias, CEO of Ethos. “The grant awards from the BHA and Boston Resiliency Fund will enable Ethos to meet their critical nutrition needs in the city’s public housing communities and beyond. This is yet another example of the commitment that The City of Boston and Mayor Walsh have made to the health and safety of those experiencing food insecurity throughout this crisis.” 

Mayor Walsh launched the Boston Resiliency Fund in March, and to date the Fund has distributed over $25.7 million to 340 nonprofit and local organizations and there is $7.6 million in funds remaining. Fifty-four percent of grantee organizations are led by a person of color, 57 percent of grantee organizations are led by a woman, and 27 percent of grantees are immigrant-serving organizations.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency, BHA, the City of Boston and many private partners have stepped up efforts to provide much-needed meals to low income communities facing economic hardship and food insecurity during the quarantine. These efforts have already been a boon to many BHA communities, and this investment is expected to help BHA and the City to streamline these efforts.

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