BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced additional distribution of free at-home COVID-19 test kits to expand access for residents across the Commonwealth. The Executive Office of Health and Human Services, in partnership with the Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management, will distribute over 1 million iHealth Labs OTC at-home rapid antigen tests to eight of the largest Massachusetts food banks and food access organizations, increasing access to residents who may not have access to COVID-19 rapid tests through more traditional channels.
The iHealth Labs OTC at-home rapid antigen test kit deliveries began this week to eight of the largest food banks and food access organizations in Massachusetts, who serve over 850,000 residents monthly through their networks of over 570 local food pantries across the Commonwealth. This distribution builds on over 10 million iHealth Labs OTC at-home rapid antigen tests that have already been widely distributed across the Commonwealth since January to K-12 schools, early education programs, emergency shelters, immigration-focused community organizations, community health centers, senior housing, health and human services programs and other locations.
“As part of our public health toolkit, the Administration is committed to increasing access to convenient at home COVIID-19 tests for our residents,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders. “Partnering with these trusted community organizations is the right thing to do to ensure that individuals facing financial hardship and food insecurity have easy access to getting these tests.”
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated food insecurity in all corners of the state, particularly among communities that have historically experienced food resource inequities. While food prices increased and families’ budget grew strained, the state’s food banks, food pantries and meal providers have stretched to manage the increased demand and serve more residents than ever. These local organizations are keeping communities fed with healthy, local and culturally accessible food, while connecting residents with existing nutrition programs including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Food pantries and local food access organizations reach hundreds of thousands of low-income residents, including older adults, low-income families and individuals who are newly arrived from other countries. Providing at-home rapid antigen tests while residents are already at these trusted food distribution locations saves them time and money.
Food banks and food access organizations will distribute the rapid test kits alongside the food they provide. These organizations have also been provided with COVID-19 Self-Test Instructions to access simple, translated instructions alongside the test kits.
Food Banks and Food Access Organizations Receiving Test Kits:
- Greater Boston Food Bank
- Worcester County Food Bank
- The Food Bank of Western MA
- Merrimack Valley Food Bank
- Community Servings
- Daily Table
- Food for Free
- About Fresh
“The Greater Boston Food Bank is thrilled to partner with the Baker-Polito Administration in the distribution of COVID-19 rapid tests by lending our operations and logistical expertise, and extensive network,” said Catherine D’Amato, president and CEO. “The strength of our network lies in the 600 trusted community partners we work with who are embedded in 190 cities and towns across Eastern Massachusetts and serving those with the least amount of resources. Access to rapid tests will be greatly appreciated by the hundreds of thousands of individuals they serve.”
“Worcester County Food Bank is happy to collaborate with Governor Baker’s Administration to provide free at-home COVID test kits to our neighbors in Worcester County who might not otherwise have access to this important resource,” said Jean McMurray, CEO of the Worcester County Food Bank. “The kits will be distributed to our network of food pantries and they in turn will provide them to individuals and households throughout Worcester County.”
“We are very grateful to the Commonwealth for providing these at-home rapid tests. For the population that we serve it is not always easy to access these important health resources, so we are very happy to be able to provide them to our community through our programs and our partner agencies,” said Food Bank of Western Massachusetts Director of Programs Christina Maxwell
“The Merrimack Valley Food Bank is honored to help distribute the at-home COVID test kits. It was a good decision to ask Food Banks to facilitate getting the tests to MA residents. We at the Merrimack Valley Food Bank already provide food through a network of partner food pantries, meal programs, senior centers and community action agencies. These partners will give them to families and individuals who seek assistance with food and in some places, other services. It’s just another way we’ll help keep our neighbors in 33 communities and beyond healthy,” said Executive Director of the Merrimack Valley Food Bank Amy Pessia.
At-home COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits are a fast, easy and convenient way to test for COVID-19. In addition to the Administration providing iHealth Labs OTC at-home rapid antigen test kits and allowing municipalities to directly purchase tests, residents can visit local pharmacies or order online to purchase rapid test kits on their own, as needed.
Massachusetts performs more COVID tests than almost any other state in the country thanks to the hundreds of existing testing locations across the Commonwealth. All testing sites are listed here: mass.gov/gettested.
COVID-19 rapid tests are one of several risk-reduction measures, along with vaccination and receiving a booster, that can protect individuals by reducing the chances of spreading COVID-19.
For detailed information on testing, visit mass.gov/gettested