$1.3 million grant to address food insecurity on the Island

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Martha's Vineyard Community Foundation

The Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation has received a $1.3 million grant to address food insecurity issues brought on by the pandemic. 

The grant is from the federal CARES Act, and is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with the Department of Housing and Community Development, and the Massachusetts Community Block Grant program.

The grant arrives as food insecurity continues to rise on the Island and across the region, and as extra funding from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — a federal food program — is due to run out this month, raising additional concerns.

The community foundation has been working with Island Grown Initiative and the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club, supporting their respective food equity programs. 

Island Grown Initiative runs the Island Food Pantry. 

The Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club has recently launched a small food pantry at the Club, and offers prepared meals to its members, the majority of which are low or moderate income individuals.

“This is an exceptional award, and the timing couldn’t be better,” said Paul Schulz, the Vineyard Foundation’s executive director. “It allows us to build upon the 2021 $1.2 million grant that was targeted to food insecurity and will be exhausted by the end of March. This new investment in feeding our neighbors will take these agencies through June of 2024.”

Members of the boys and girls club and Island Grown Initiative welcomed the funding as well.

“We are so grateful to the community foundation for seeking this critical support,” said Rebecca Haag, IGI’s executive director. “Just this month, families receiving SNAP benefits are seeing a significant drop in their monthly assistance. And it comes at a time when our client base has doubled in just the last year.”

The boys and girls club provides families with a conduit of care that connects them with community partners to ensure they are holistically supported, including food access, as being made possible through this grant.

Executive director of the club, Dhakir Warren, explains, “While the club has a longstanding reputation of supporting youth, our food security program is playing an increasingly instrumental role in ensuring Island youth and families across the Island are being supported holistically and have consistent access to healthy and nutritious meals.”

14 COMMENTS

  1. What is “food equity”? The SNAP funds are not being reduced from their usual amount but are being put back to a pre-covid level which should have been done at least 18 months ago. Covid did effect some jobs for the first 6 months or so back in 2020 but why have these benefits been extended for such a long period after the pandemic went away? What exactly is “food insecurity”? Does it mean you can’t afford to feed your family in one of the most expensive places to live in the country? If so, why on earth would you choose to live in such a place? I know these comments seem mean spirited but honestly let’s address the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Other than senior citizens whom we all have an obligation to support why would someone live in a place where they can’t feed their family? That’s just irresponsible. I’m all for SNAP benefits that have an expiration date. We all could fall on hard times in our lives. Let’s limit them to 2 years in the absence of a medical condition or some other tragic experience. We should also combine the various food distribution sites with job fairs to help these people out. Maybe you have to attend a job fair before you receive a distribution from the food pantry. Doesn’t that make sense? If we are really serious about combatting this issue we would take proactive measures to reduce it.

    • John– Thank you for an articulate comment expressing something that could be considered rational and perhaps even compassionate.
      I will however disagree with your inferred premise that people who use food banks or have SNAP cards are unemployed.
      I think– my opinion– most or the recipients of these programs are in fact employed, but do not make a living wage and need some long term assistance. Until the “job creators” start to share some of their profits with their workers in the form of higher wages we will have people living on the margins. Yes, we will likely always have some people living paycheck to paycheck and coming up short, but that doesn’t mean that as a community we shouldn’t try help those in genuine need.
      Again– in my opinion, in the long run, additional funding for programs that address reproductive issues and make birth control more accessible and affordable could reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and live births and make family size more manageable , as well as reduce the instances of the tragedy of abortion.

  2. Some people live here because of the benefits the island extends. They cant afford to but various agencies sustain them and that causes others to drift here. The busy season is a period of intense pressure and overwork, alternating with off-season stretches of underemployment or unemployment. Substance abuse and mental health disorders are prevalent. With the current inflation, combined with the further increase in housing costs, social conditions have deteriorated even further, and cost of food has become more acute than ever. Elderly on SS checks are strained. It is a vicious cycle. More dysfunction and crime coming.

    • Do you have the same standard for the wealthy and big corporations that would have a hard time sustaining themselves without gov subsidies and handouts? People like Elon Musk, big oil that gets billions every year? Give me a break Andrew!

      • I do not support govt subsidies for Tesla or oil companies. I support help for the intractably poor and disabled. Many people living here would be far better off somewhere else and would be assisted.

    • Do you have any names of people who live here because of the benefits the Island extends?
      Are the benefits higher in The County of Dukes County than Barnstable County?, Plymouth County?, Bristol County?
      The vicious cycle of “crime and dysfunction” of baseless claims…

    • Should the Island’s elderly on SS checks receive more benefits or should they be shipped off to New Bedford where the cost of living is lower?

    • “Substance abuse and mental health disorders are prevalent.”
      More so than in New Bedford?
      And the rest of the State?

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