BOSTON — State Sen. Joan Lovely, whose district includes Peabody, was recognized as the Greater Boston Food Bank’s public advocate of the year at the organization’s annual Partner Appreciation Awards.
A “steadfast advocate for equitable access to food,” Lovely is also a lead sponsor of the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative, a bill that lays out a roadmap for the Department of Higher Education to support two- and four-year public colleges in implementing hunger-relief programs.
The Public Advocate of the Year Award is given to a public official who has “shown a strong commitment to the provision and protection of emergency food assistance and ensuring those struggling with hunger in our communities have enough to eat every day,” the food bank said in a statement.
Lovely said she was “deeply honored” to work with and receive recognition from the food bank, and looked forward to continuing to advocate with the organization for solutions to food insecurity.
“Food insecurity can have profoundly negative impacts on people’s mental, emotional, and physical well-being,” Lovely said in a statement. “This is particularly so for vulnerable populations like our students. That is why I am proud to have sponsored the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative this session to improve food equity and ensure that students at our state and public universities can focus on their studies.”
Last fall, Lovely discussed hunger amongst college students with student advocates at Salem State University, and she was a vocal supporter of expanding the university’s on-campus food pantry.
More recently, members of Lovely’s staff met with members of the MA Hunger Free Campus Coalition, a statewide coalition co-led by the food bank, to discuss passing the Hunger-Free Campus Initiative bill and securing funds in the state budget to meet the goal of ending hunger on college campuses in Massachusetts.
Catherine D’Amato, the president and CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank, praised Lovely for “routinely turning her words into action” and said the organization was grateful for the work she has done to help eradicate food insecurity for students.
“As a lead sponsor for the Hunger Free Campus Initiative, she is acutely aware that food insecurity on college campuses is a barrier to success for students already struggling with the cost of living and tuition alongside their studies,” D’Amato said in a statement. “I am proud to honor her with this award and support her on this mission to end college hunger.”
The organization also handed out eleven other awards, including recognizing state Rep. Sean Garballey as a fellow advocate of the year and awarding Demakes Enterprises as the food donor of the year.