BOSTON (Mass.gov) – Today, in recognition of National Food Day, Governor Charlie Baker declared October 24, 2016 as “Massachusetts Food Day.” To celebrate, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Commissioner John Lebeaux and other state and public officials joined students across the state to celebrate locally sources food being served at school cafeterias throughout the Commonwealth.
“I am proud to declare today Massachusetts Food Day to raise awareness about eating a healthier diet and having access to affordable fruits and vegetables,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration supports local farmers and is dedicated to making sure all of the Commonwealth’s residents, especially our growing children, have access to fresh, healthy food.”
“Today, we celebrate the many farmers who produce high-quality crops, as well as the many Massachusetts residents employed in our vibrant food economy across the state,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “I urge everyone to celebrate Massachusetts Food Day by purchasing delicious, healthy food products from your local farmers.”
“Massachusetts Food Day is a great opportunity to celebrate our vital agricultural industry and efforts to create healthier diets and a better food system throughout the Commonwealth,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Throughout the year, the Baker-Polito Administration is working to improve food policies to support local food production and reduce food insecurity.”
Nationally, Food Day was started in 2011 to help inspire Americans to improve their diets and local, state, and national food policies for the better. Every October, tens of thousands of Americans participate in local events aimed at celebrating healthy, affordable and sustainable food.
“Farm to school is a win-win effort,” said Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner John Lebeaux. “School food service directors can improve the nutritional value and taste of school meals while also supporting the local economy. Farmers selling locally-grown products to schools can earn a profit while finding new ways to connect with local consumers.”
There are about 7,755 farms in Massachusetts working on over 523,000 acres to produce $492 million in agricultural products. The average farm produces $63,470 of agricultural products on just 68 acres. Massachusetts farms provide employment to nearly 28,000 workers in the Commonwealth. While nationally the United States witnessed a decline in agriculture from 2007 to 2012, Massachusetts was one of the few states that experienced a 1 percent growth in both number of farms and acres in farmland.
“Everyone is a winner when food is sourced locally,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “Our diets are healthier, our food is tastier, and our farmers are busier! Massachusetts Food Day is a great way to recognize and celebrate all of these benefits.”