Despite tough economic times, the state's spending more money on food than ever before.
Since 2007, the state's food bill has jumped by more than $2 million, topping out at nearly $22 million ($21,759,915) in 2009. That includes close to $2 million in catering bills alone in 2009.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education spent the most on catering, at nearly a half million dollars ($478,160). Dating back to 2007, that department has spent more than $1.3m in state and federal tax money on catering. They're not alone.
Last year, Governor Deval Patrick's office spent $4500 on catered food. That includes 215 lunches and more than 100 cookies, danishes and other sweets. To top it off, they held a cookout for summer interns that cost the taxpayers more than $1100.
The state's Secretary of Administration and Finance, Jay Gonzalez, says that the food budget is actually a very small amount of the total state budget, but said it is probably not the right time to be spending so much, when many are needing to cut back on so much.
Four months after FOX25 requested the state's records on food expenditures, a memo was sent out to all cabinet secretaries, agency heads and chief financial officers that read:
"All executive branch agencies should refrain from purchasing non-essential goods and services until further notice is given."
Catered foods are included in this memo.
Another major cost is for bottled water. In 2009, Massachusetts spent close to a half million dollars on bottled water.
Gonzalez says that most of the money flowing out of the state's food budget goes to feed people in prisons and other state institutions. The Department of Correction spent more than $11 million on food in 2009.
The Governor's office tells FOX25 that it has stopped hosting the intern cookout and a spokesman says that the Governor has cut his office budget by 17% over the last two years.