Table Talk, Spring 2022
Food Supply Challenges Return to ONT
When I started at ONT in 2010, it was not uncommon for us to make urgent pleas to the community to keep our pantry shelves from going bare. In subsequent years, we made a lot of strategic decisions to ensure the shelves would never be empty so that our neighbors could have consistent, reliable access to healthy food – the very definition of food security. ONT’s Markets – our free grocery stores – maintain a standard of quantity and quality product to increase food security for our guests. Even throughout the pandemic, ONT has been able to maintain its food supply, despite challenges at local grocery stores. ONT’s resilience was thanks to the strength of its partner Greater Boston Food Bank and the network of local partners like US Foods and DeLuigi’s where ONT could access a wide variety of quality fresh foods to stock our Online Market.
But today, we are feeling the pinch. Ongoing labor challenges for our partners are impacting the logistics of accessing food in our network. Consequently, ONT is faced with purchasing those foods that our guests need and value most – meats, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables – and to put our trucks on the road more to find the food all at the same increased costs affecting everyone else. We are committed to maintaining our Market standards – ensuring every person who shops has access to a wide variety of product and can access the quantity they need to feed everyone in their household. As we have throughout our 30 years, we’ll get creative and call on our partners and on you to pitch in where you can. As we head into Summer and prepare for the surge of families relying on us in the absence of school meals, will you pitch in? Every $1, even with today’s inflation, still affords us a meal’s worth of groceries for our guests.
Ever wonder what distinguishes ONT’s Markets from your traditional food pantry? The first distinction is the shopping experience. Every guest is welcome to shop like they do in a traditional grocery store, wandering the aisles at their own pace, pushing along a shopping cart, and selecting the products they prefer and taking the quantity they need to meet their needs. Unlike a traditional grocery store, all of the products are provided free of charge.
Second, the food offered is driven by the requests and needs of our guests (like businesses use customer research and feedback to design their products). In order for ONT to meet our free grocery store standards and wear our “ONT Market” brand, the storefront must offer at a minimum, our standard product menu. The specific foods within each standard category are selected to cater to that Market’s customers’ requests.
ONT’s Market Standards:
Sponsor and Serve Opportunities Now Available!
ONT Turns 30! Building Food Security Then and Now
ONT's Summer Lunch Program is Back!
ONT’s Summer Lunch Program (SLP) was designed to offer families additional breakfast and lunch foods to help feed kids who are home from school for the summer. It's estimated to cost an extra $300 to provide the meals a child would have received at school, which combined with camp or childcare costs can be overwhelming for so many families. The SLP provides a solution and has been helping ease parents' summer worries for over a decade.
There is no additional registration needed to participate in the SLP. Every ONT family with children in their household will automatically have extra breakfast, lunch and snack items to add to their grocery order each week beginning June 14 through September 3. Families in our region who aren't current guests can register with ONT anytime on our website or call 978-388-1907 to start shopping weekly.
Volunteer Spotlight - Dee Morse
Dee Morse has been a great influence to Our Neighbors’ Table as the organization evolved over the years. Joining in the early 1990’s when her friend asked her to draw a logo, she is still here 30 years later because she “just hasn’t been able to let go of ONT.” When asked to reflect on her almost 30-year commitment to the organization she said, “ONT has changed drastically over the years. We started in the Church with 8 people volunteering at the Meal and a table of canned goods that we called a food pantry. Now look at it!” She continued, “There is a warehouse full of food, [the organization] has its own building, and there are employees!” While Dee was on the board, the organization decided they needed to staff an Executive Director. Dee says, “The best decision we ever made was to hire Lyndsey Haight for the job. She has done such amazing things for this organization and the community.”
Before moving to Kingston, New Hampshire, Dee lived in South Hampton for 45 years. She grew up in Maplewood, NJ and went to College in Connecticut where she met her husband. Dee was a pediatric medical assistant in Haverhill and used to play tennis and garden. Now, she enjoys playing pickle ball in Florida during the winter, taking walks, and travelling.
To the many people joining Our Neighbors’ Table now, 30 years after its founding, Dee Morse wants you to know that ONT is still serving the community and beyond. “The organization fulfills its mission and follows its heart with staff and volunteers who are wonderful to be around.” She enjoys the connections she has maintained with people she served over the years as their lives change. In one instance, a little boy receiving a prepared meal wanted to give ONT his birthday money so he could help someone else. Dee loves that she is part of providing food security to thousands of people.
Thank you, Dee Morse, our 2013 Community Champion, for all you have done for the community and for Our Neighbors’ Table.
News & Events
Thank You and Best Wishes!
Over the years, Melanie Bouchard, Hannah Clarke, Mike Marshall, Heather Paterson, and Tress Ricker have made a tremendous impact on Our Neighbors' Table, dedicating thousands of hours to the organization. They have helped keep our operations running smoothly and efficiently, onboarded and managed hundreds of volunteers, and have ensured that our guests received uninterrupted services throughout a pandemic. We are incredibly sad to see them go, but we are so excited to see all they'll go on to accomplish with their new endeavors. Many kudos and thanks to Melanie, Hannah, Mike, Heather, and Tress for all their hard work! We wish them all the best.
With their departure, we have some crucial job openings! If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more, please click the links below to view the full job descriptions.
Did you miss ONT's Volunteer Town Hall on Tuesday, March 22? View the recording here!