BOSTON (Nov. 4, 2021) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding 13 Healthy Communities Grants awarded across four of its New England states; Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Two of the awarded grants will provide benefits throughout New England.

EPA New England’s Healthy Communities Grant Program combines resources from several EPA programs to strategically address the environmental and public health issues burdening New England communities.

“EPA New England’s Healthy Community grants are an effective tool to make funding available for New England organizations to address environmental health concerns in our local communities,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. “These projects will make a positive difference protecting human health and the environment. EPA New England’s Healthy Community Grants are a great example of how EPA can work closely with local organizations to advance public health protection.”

Connecticut

Center for EcoTechnology, $30,000, “Wasted Food Solutions New Haven County Phase III”
The Center for EcoTechnology (CET) and its project partners will build on previous efforts by working with food generators and commercial generators to implement source reduction strategies for wasted food. This project will work with New Haven County organizations to promote diverting as much edible food to food donation and rescue as possible and divert for composting and anaerobic digestion the waste food that cannot be donated. This project will also replicate practices used in Massachusetts.

Maine

Cumberland County Soil and Water, $29,977, “Soil Lead Testing & Outreach to Gardiners in Greater Portland, Maine”
This project will increase awareness of the presence of soil lead contamination to home gardeners through the entire City of Portland, the neighboring City of Westbrook, and adjacent municipalities as time and budget will allow. The project includes updating outreach materials developed for the 2019 Portland Soil Lead Awareness Project, including additional translations to reach New American or other sensitive populations. Another objective includes informing residents what lead levels mean in terms of home gardening and human health and developing action plans with recommendations tailored to site contamination levels and type of food produced. Cumberland County Soil and Water plans to provide additional outreach and testing to urban chicken keepers to improve their understanding of this as a potential pathway for lead exposure.

Maine Indoor Air Quality Council, $30,000, “Moisture-Managed Rental Properties”
This project expands upon prior work by shifting to a more comprehensive, “moisture-managed property” approach to rental units in Maine through education, resource development, communications, and exploration of the policy landscape. This project will develop a best practice guidance document that provides landlords, tenants, and others with timelines and strategies to communicate and resolve mold and moisture problems in rental units before significant property damage or occupant health effect occurs.

Massachusetts

University of Massachusetts – Lowell, $29,956, “Pollution Prevention Interns in the Food and Beverage Sector for Healthy Communities”
This project will help UMass Lowell students gain an understanding of environmental issues and create a healthier work environment for the sensitive population of food and beverage sector workers. Three UMass Lowell students will be placed for internships during the summer of 2022 to conduct Pollution Prevention (P2) focused projects at three different New England food and beverage processing or manufacturing facilities. They will assist the facilities implementation of recommendations, which will provide opportunities for reducing the generation of food waste, hazardous waste, and use of natural resources. Overall, this project is designed to teach students about the benefits of pollution prevention while also providing in-house assistance to facilities in identifying and implementing better ways to do business and create healthier and safer work environments and communities.

Third Sector New England, $30,000, “Farm to Institution New England” (Smith College)
This project plans to address the impacts of college “Grab n’ Go” Dining. Specifically, this project will reduce the risk of PFAS in college dining containers due to COVID-19 responses. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many food providers switched from in-person dining served on reusable kitchenware, to grab-n-go service in disposable packaging. Farm to Institution New England (FINE) will partner with Smith College in order to identify the actual and potential point sources for PFAS at Smith, build understanding on the issues with PFAS and how Smith can help reduce the risks from PFAS in their dining operations, eliminate or reduce the actual occurrence of PFAS in the college’s dining operations, and develop a “roadmap” to scale impact to the nearly 200 colleges and universities in New England with dining operations and other institutions in the region. This project will contribute positive research and education outcomes and outputs to the EPA’s PFAS Action Plan.

Northeast Waste Management Official Association, $30,000, “End Food Waste Initiative in East Boston”
Through this project, the Northeast Waste Management Official Association (NEWMOA) will partner with the East Boston Maverick Landing Community Services to mobilize a food delivery system to help the neediest in East Boston’s diverse community. This project focuses on food zero waste reduction and diversion. The Project’s vision is for the Maverick Landing community to achieve zero wasted food status, including a community that sources its food from local farms and achieves an 80% reduction in the generation of wasted food community-wide by rescuing food and redirecting it from disposal.

Groundwork Lawrence, $30,000, “Merrimack Valley Saves Energy / Ahorra Energia”
This project will provide education and outreach to residents in small buildings (1-4 units) and small businesses in the Merrimack Valley (primarily Lawrence, Methuen and Haverhill) to connect them with energy assessments and energy efficiency retrofits for their homes and small businesses. This work will reduce energy use and costs, while cutting carbon pollution and making our communities more resilient in the face of climate change. Furthermore, this project will develop bilingual (Spanish and English) outreach materials that will carry out bilingual outreach, sign residents up for no-cost home energy assessments and retrofits and sign-up small business owners for assessments and retrofits.

Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, $28,021, “Healthy and Efficient Homes Pilot Project”
This project seeks to address indoor environmental hazards and energy efficiency issues in homes within two adjacent neighborhoods in the City of Pittsfield, Mass. This project aims to improve the overall health and safety of housing units in Morningside/Westside in response to the myriad of health inequities experienced by residents and common hazards found in older homes, especially those that have been poorly maintained. This project includes community outreach through surveys and listening sessions, and educational materials for residents on environmental hazards.

Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational and Healthy Safety, $30,000, “Using a Peer Leadership to Ensure Clean, Green and Healthy Schools”
This project will recruit, train, and support youth ambassadors in efforts to reduce asthma triggers and promote school environmental health. Boston youth and their families will then be engaged to develop and communicate their priorities in design and construction decisions for building upgrades made possible through federal pandemic recovery investments. Coaching and support will be provided to Boston Teachers Union Members in supporting their school communities in using asthma-friendly cleaning and disinfection, and improving ventilation, when protecting students and staff from exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

Rhode Island

Center of EcoTechnology, Inc., $30,000, “Wasted Food Solutions Providence County Phase III”
This project will reduce the quantity of wasted food entering the municipal solid waste stream by working with target wasted food generators, including k-12 schools, event venues, healthcare facilities, colleges/universities, hospitality facilities, and food rescue and donation organizations. Providence County, including the municipalities of Cranston, Providence, Seekonk, and Pawtucket, is their Target Investment Area. This project will extend the lifetime of Rhode Island’s only landfill, which is located in Providence, and reduce opportunities for contamination from vermin and vermin-borne illnesses associated with wasted food in MSW. WFS PIII will serve as a model for implementing cost-effective solutions and inspire surrounding counties to take action that reduce the environmental and public health issues surrounding food insecurity and wasted food.

MEANS Database, $30,000, “Rhode Island Food Recovery Extension”
This project will focus on expanding current food recovery efforts throughout the state to create a stronger, more resilient and increasingly inclusive food ecosystem. This project will prevent excess consumable food from going to waste and transporting it to more students and their families in need of food assistance- thus securing a more equitable food system with immediate and lasting impact. In order to create the least amount of waste possible, this project will furnish reusable and biodegradable packaging for food donated. This project will build upon its existing network of food donors and emergency food providers throughout the state of Rhode Island and branch out to SFSP meal recovery.

New England

The Asthma Regional Council of New England at Health Resources in Action, $30,000, “Asthma and COVID-19 – Lessons, Challenges, and Opportunities”
This project will identify and reflect on new asthma-related challenges brought on and/or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this program, ARC will facilitate cross-state collaboration and capacity building to share the lessons, address challenges, and strategize about opportunities to address environmental conditions that contribute to asthma, with a focus on promoting racial and health equity in asthma outcomes, and considering COVID-19 stressors. The project aims to eliminate exposures to environmental triggers in homes, schools, and the broader community, as well as to increase access to culturally competent and quality clinical care to support asthma management.

Ecology Action, $29,832, “Grocery Challenge”
This project will provide educational audits and consultations in 20 grocery stores to educate grocery store owners and managers about opportunities to prevent direct air emissions (particulate matter, Nox, greenhouse gasses, etc.) through energy efficiency and by reducing toxic chemicals used and sold in stores. The goal of this project is to protect communities, especially front-line workers and communities (particularly children), from direct emissions by on-site diesel generators (used to shed load during peak demand) and from unintentional exposure to toxics through both onsite chemical use and household chemical use. Ecology Action’s challenge project will provide assistance to help the store reduce the need to rely on direct exhaust diesel generators during peak energy usage. Reducing energy use results in reduced air emissions.

Background

The Healthy Communities Grant Program is EPA New England’s main competitive grant program to work directly with communities to support EPA’s “Back-to-Basics” agenda to reduce environmental risks, protect and improve human health and improve the quality of life. To qualify as eligible projects under the Healthy Communities Grant Program, proposed projects must: (1) be located in and/or directly benefit one or more of the Target Investment Areas; and (2) identify how the proposed project will achieve measurable environmental and/or public health results in one or more of the Target Program Areas.

To learn more about the Healthy Communities Grant Program in Region 1:
https://www3.epa.gov/region1/eco/uep/hcgp.html

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