Essex Tech Awarded State Grant to Address Food Insecurity

HATHORNE – Superintendent Heidi Riccio is pleased to announce that Essex Tech has been awarded a $130,000 state grant to address COVID-19-linked food insecurity in the District.

Essex Tech will use the grant to purchase a new food truck, display containers, and portable handwashing stations. The Essex Tech/Commonwealth of Massachusetts-branded food truck will bring fresh, healthy local food to neighborhoods in the Gateway Cities of Salem and Peabody, and to communities with higher numbers of low-income Census tract populations.

Food security is defined as a lack of steady access to enough food for an active, healthy lifestyle.

“No one should go hungry. About 14 percent of adults and 21 percent of children in Essex County face some form of food insecurity,” said Superintendent Riccio. “Food insecurity isn’t just about poverty. Low wages, health issues, high medical costs, and social isolation are contributing factors. COVID-19 has exacerbated those issues. The district will do whatever it can to help those in need.”

Essex Tech’s horticulture program and greenhouses will support the food truck effort. The district plans to bring food to local farmers’ markets during the summer and fall. The district also may use hydroponics equipment, obtained through a partnership with Tufts University, to extend the program year-round.

The district hopes to start the food program in July, pending delivery of the truck.

The funding is part of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following recommendations from the Baker-Polito Administration’s COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force. This effort promotes access to healthy local food by individuals and families.