Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker announced Tuesday a new plan to combat food insecurity around the commonwealth, which Baker said has risen sharply as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan, which is based on recommendations by a food insecurity task force appointed by Baker, calls for directing $56 million in state funds to support local food bank operations and other food distribution programs. It will also provide 26,000 meal boxes weekly to individuals who apply to get them.
“The ongoing crisis has highlighted the importance of reinforcing [Massachusetts’] food supply chain,” Baker said.
Massachusetts Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders said food banks along with federal and state food assistance programs have seen “skyrocketing” demand and that food insecurity has risen especially sharply in certain communities.
The announcement comes after the Baker administration tried smaller, targeted food distribution efforts, including in Chelsea, where the National Guard distributed thousands of boxes of food daily for the past several weeks.
Baker also announced that most emergency field hospitals set up around the commonwealth as COVID-19 infections peaked are in the process of closing.
The 1,000-bed Boston Hope Medical Center, set up at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, will remain open as remaining patients are treated, Baker said. The facility will remain available, if needed, for emergency capacity through the summer.
Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito fielded a question about whether she visited with family over the Memorial Day weekend.
Polito said a report that described her hosting a gathering was incorrect, but that she had visited briefly with family.
“My brother is one of the parents in our commonwealth who has two children graduating,” she said. “He invited some family to get together. I did stop by to say hello.”
It was an outdoor gathering, Polito said. She and family members practiced social distancing, “which is allowed under the governor’s order with the guidance we’ve issued,” she added.
“This is going to happen. When people want to get together and as the weather improves, it’s a natural thing people will want to do,” Polito said. “It should be done in a manner where people come together, practice social distancing, and keep it small. Which is what happened with my brother’s family.”