The Public Health Institute of Western MA (PHIWM) incorporates health policy in our coalition building initiatives in order to ensure sustainability of outcomes and impact.

Advocacy Goals

  • Increase community awareness of “social determinants of health”; how where we live, work, play impacts health;
  • Build a broad-based coalition to work towards eliminating or reducing barriers to basic human needs that create health differences between populations.  Provide a voice and a vehicle for participation by the people most impacted by policies that either provide opportunity or barriers.
  • Educate policymakers about critical local public health issues.
  • Provide partners and community members with the latest data,  updates on key public health issues and opportunities to take action.
  • Help local health departments communicate the value of local public health with their own policymakers.

PHIWM is currently engaged in policy advocacy at the state and local level in food systems, the built environment, neighborhoods and housing, tobacco (and marijuana) access, casino mitigation, air pollution, energy and climate change and access to healthcare.

Current Policy Efforts



  • MA Tobacco 21 – statewide regulations to prohibit sales to under 21

Food Policy

  • MA Food Trust will increase investment in low-income communities by
  • providing loans, grants and technical assistance to local food businesses seeking to site or expand.
  •  Healthy Incentives Program provides monthly incentives to SNAP households
  • purchase fresh, local, healthy vegetables and fruits from Massachusetts farmers at farmers markets, farmstands,CSAs, and mobile markets.
  • SNAP Gap Create a common application portal to let lowincome households apply for MassHealth and SNAP at the same time.

Neighborhoods and Housing

  • Great Neighborhoods (H2420) The Great Neighborhoods Campaign will reform our state’s planning, zoning, and permitting laws to support communities that work for families and seniors.
  • Housing Bond Bill: H 675: An Act Financing the Production and Preservation of Housing for Low and Moderate Income Residents
  • MA Sanitary Code on Housing updates to address asthma

 Schools Funding

  • MA Municipal Medicaid & School Nurses – Medicaid funding for school nurses
  • Federal School Infrastructure – federal legislation to fund school infrastructure

Air Quality and Climate Change

  • Springfield Climate Action & Resilience Plan—ongoing implementation, April 21 Day of Action,
  • Carbon Pricing – state legislation
  • Biomass- Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Alternative – removing biomass from preferred status in the RGGI
  • 100% Renewable- state initiative for long term strategy to move away from GHG emissions


  • 2017 Mass Food Trust funded at $1 million.
  • 2017 Springfield adopts Strong, Healthy Just: Climate Action & Resilience Plan.
  • 2012-2017 Springfield and Holyoke Public School Districts implement Green Cleaning practices to prevent asthma exacerbation.
  • 2015 Springfield City Council passes a Resolution to adopt the Complete Streets Plan for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
  • 2014 Springfield City Council passes Resolution to create a Climate Action Plan.
  • 2014 Springfield City Council passes Zoning Ordinance on 21st Century development supporting healthy community design.
  • 2013 Springfield City Council passes Community Gardening Ordinance.
  • 2012 Holyoke Public School District institutes evidence-based curriculum for adolescent sexual health.
  • 2012 Springfield School Committee institutes policy for distribution of condoms by school nurses and evidence-based curriculum for adolescent sexual health.
  • 2012 Early education and care organizations create policy to discontinue use of fruit and vegetables canned in syrup.
  • 2010 Springfield City Council Resolution establishes Springfield Food Policy Council.
  • 2009 MA Department of Early Education and Care requires tooth brushing in childcare and preschool organizations to prevent childhood cavities.