First in Massachusetts
Project Bread has led the way in hunger relief innovation. Here are a few highlights of concepts that we’ve pioneered over the past few years.
1998 Conducted a statewide study with former U.S. Congressman Joseph Kennedy and physicians to understand the face of child hunger in five low-income communities throughout the state. The resulting report, “Hidden Hunger, Fragile Futures,” set the stage for Project Bread’s focus on hunger prevention.
2000 Sponsored a study, conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, that proved that children who ate breakfast at school were more likely to do well in math, to have fewer absences, and to require fewer trips to the school nurse. This work led to the bipartisan adoption of the universal breakfast program in low-income schools throughout the state.
2001 Developed the first online SNAP/food stamp eligibility application. This application, now known as www.gettingsnap.org, became a precursor for the state’s Virtual Gateway.
2003 Introduced the annual Status Report on Hunger in Massachusetts as the state’s report card on hunger.
2003 Piloted a collaboration between state agencies, called the Child Nutrition Outreach Program, that automatically enrolled children receiving SNAP/food stamp benefits into the free and reduced-price school meals program, reducing the need for multiple applications. This program is now statewide and enrolled 164,274 schoolchildren during the last full school year.
2003 In partnership with the Center for Survey Research at UMass, conducted the first survey research on the incidence of hunger and food insecurity in low-income census tracts around the state. This study, repeated in 2005, found that statewide hunger statistics masked the problem in pockets of poverty in low-income cities and towns like Lawrence, Lowell, Holyoke, New Bedford, and Boston, where 20 percent of all households lacked adequate food.
2004 Created cutting-edge nutritional standards for school meals in partnership with the Harvard School of Public Health, which resulted in the development of the Better Breakfast Initiative.
2004 Piloted the first locally grown foods initiative in Chicopee designed to introduce fresh local produce to children in low-income households through the Summer Food Service Program.
2005 Formalized the relationship with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project and began providing transportation grants to local farmers who made their produce available to children in low-income households through schools and summer programs.
2005 With researchers from UMass Boston, demonstrated that school breakfast improved MCAS scores when it was provided in schools where 60 to 80 percent of the children were eligible for free or reduced-price meals.
2006 With help from the Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University, expanded the K12 school nutritional standards to include lunch (the Better Lunch Initiative), sourced vendors for healthy products, and created toolkits for every school food-service director in the state.
2006 In a first-of-its-kind collaboration with Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Public Health Commission, hired a culinary chef to conduct demonstration projects in Boston’s public schools to promote healthy school food for low-income children. This program, known as the Chefs in Schools Initiative, was expanded to eight schools.
2006 In partnership with the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at UMass Boston, began an in-depth study of the needs of the Latino population; the resulting demonstration projects and outreach are uniquely tailored to this community.
2007 Funded a demonstration project in community health centers affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital, called Food for Families, that studied the incidence of hunger in low-income families coming in for routine pediatric visits; findings revealed that 11 percent of the 11,000 families screened were at risk for hunger. These families were provided with food vouchers and SNAP/food stamp enrollment support.
2008 Partnered with elder home-care organizations in Boston to address the needs of frail, homebound seniors and provided food vouchers, which enabled visiting case workers to fill their clients’ pantries with a bag of food.
2009 Developed, in partnership with UMass Memorial Health Care and the Office of Congressman James McGovern, the first hospital handbook, called Hunger in the Community: Ways Hospitals Can Help, that promoted awareness of hunger’s impact on a low-income person’s medical care; the handbook highlights actions that hospitals can take to address food insecurity, including enrolling seniors and others in SNAP/food stamps as part of their enrollment in MassHealth. The book was endorsed by the Massachusetts Hospital Association and sent it to all hospitals in the state and all members of Congress by Congressman McGovern’s office.
2009 Sponsored a study by the Harvard School of Public Health that showed that low-income children will eat healthy food, including vegetables, whole-grain breads, and low-fat white milk, when it is prepared well and tastes good.
2010 Expanded the successful Chefs in Schools Initiative to other low-income school districts in Lawrence and Salem to provide healthy recipes and training for kitchen staff.