State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, secured three amendments totaling $350,000 “to tackle pressing needs in the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district” during the Massachusetts House of Representatives debate on comprehensive economic development legislation, according to a press release. The money comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act and surplus funds from fiscal year 2022.
“Access to food and healthcare are basic rights in a modern society, but many still struggle to attain them on Martha’s Vineyard,” Fernandes said in the release. “This funding will help support the work of the Island Grown Initiative to feed the hungry and the efforts by Island Health Care to create a long-needed dental clinic on-Island to serve those without access to care.”
One amendment secured $100,000 for Island Grown Initiative (IGI) to improve food security for low-income residents on Martha’s Vineyard. According to the release, IGI’s Island Food Pantry serves 2,200 clients, but has “no permanent location for the pantry, and the organization lacks adequate storage space and a commercial kitchen.” The funding will go toward the establishment of a “centrally located,” permanent “Island Food Center” to serve as a home and distribution hub for the pantry.
Another amendment will provide $150,000 to Island Health Care to expand its current services, primarily targeting the “medically underserved” and uninsured residents of Martha’s Vineyard. According to the release, no dental facilities on the Island accept Medicaid patients despite “at least 2,600 youth who are eligible for Medicaid or other health safety-net assistance live on the Vineyard.” To fill this gap, the funding will be used toward building a new dental facility for youth and their families alongside expanding Island Health Care’s primary-care clinic.
Another $100,000 amendment was secured to expand broadband services in Falmouth.
The economic development bill also requires approval of the state Senate and the governor to be finalized.