In 2013 as an active parent in her school community and civic life as a Cambridge resident, Alanna became aware that food insecurity was a barrier for academic success for many of our students. This realization was a call to action, and she became determined to ensure that her children’s classmates had their basic needs met and could capitalize on the incredible CPS curriculum at every grade level.
Alanna founded the Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program to address the needs of food-insecure students, but also to connect their families to other vital resources that are available in the community. This critical work was so important to her, that she left the private sector to focus on it full time. For the last five years she has passionately dedicated her life to working on issues of food insecurity in Cambridge and she has had the privilege and pleasure of helping schools, families, the business community and concerned residents form a partnership to help Cambridge students succeed. When the Weekend Backpack Program started, it served 15 students in one school. Today, it has expanded to every school in Cambridge and sends home meals with over 550 students every weekend.
As Mayor David Maher’s Education Liaison for two years (2015-2016), she learned first-hand that dedicated public service combined with strategic public policy can be an effective tool to change our residents’ lives for the better. Our elected leaders have the power to impact how our funds are spent and where to direct our collective energies. Our city has a great many resources, but many who live here are facing significant challenges and their needs are not being met. Alanna is determined to ensure that those resources can be directed to those who may not have a voice in decision making.
Since January of 2016, she has been a Program Director at Food For Free, working closely on issues of food insecurity in Cambridge not just for students, but for various vulnerable populations in Cambridge and the Greater Boston area. Through this work, she came to realize that there is a link between the resources and services that residents need: affordable housing, access to high quality day care and early education opportunities, mental health and human services, and many more. Working on these linked issues for our residents and using her skills to build broad coalitions of support to find meaningful solutions to the complex issues and challenges that face our community members is the natural extension of her work, and issues she cares deeply about.
Given her experience, knowledge of our governing systems, and relationships with community partners, Alanna knew the time was right for her to bring these unique experiences to the Cambridge City Council, and declared her candidacy in March of 2017. That November, she was elected to serve her first term, which began on January 1, 2018. As City Councillor, Alanna has worked tirelessly to ensure that all city residents, including our most at risk, get the representation that they need and deserve at the highest level. Her experience over the last few years has affirmed that the City of Cambridge is unparalleled in its focus on the needs of our most vulnerable residents, but that there is so much more that we can, and must do.
Alanna was born and raised in Brockton, Massachusetts and moved to Cambridge with her husband in the summer of 2004. They are proud to call Cambridge home. Alanna and her husband have two children, a fourth and seventh grader, both of whom have been enrolled in the Cambridge Public School system since they were in Junior Kindergarten.
Alanna with her husband Bob, her 10 year old daughter and 14 year old son.