In our last issue, we celebrated Amesbury as a Food-Secure City. Through partnerships with schools, city services, social service partners, and hundreds of private citizens, ONT has helped raise awareness of food insecurity in Amesbury and has created and sustains a network of resources to provide food for all residents in need. Today, I am thrilled to report that ONT is well on its way to mobilizing neighboring communities to do the same. Over the last eight months, ONT has convened the Food Security Advisory Group and its Assessment Working Group to develop a plan to better understand where and why food insecurity persists in our region. We launched this assessment in July and will issue a first round of findings later this Fall.
While we work with our partners to gain this knowledge, we are simultaneously piloting new programs and projects, building new partnerships and using our experience, lessons from national leaders to strengthen the existing network of food resources across our region.
The thought of declaring our entire region as food-secure is both incredible and entirely possible. Our experience in the City of Amesbury, and in just the short time of engaging community members in Newburyport has demonstrated that one of our region’s greatest strengths is the motivation of its citizens to mobilize and take care of one another. ONT experienced that eagerness first-hand in 2016 when we raised $1.1 million to open the Jardis-Taylor Center, and again this June. With 10 days left in our Spring Appeal, we put out a call to community members to meet a $10,000 challenge match. Well, the community answered and raised the bar – raising $21,000! ONT secured it’s $10,000 matching gift and finished the Spring Appeal well over its goal, having raised $113,000! To everyone who made a donation, helped spread the word, or volunteered in our programs putting those dollars to work, I thank you. I thank you on behalf of the thousands of guests, particularly the 900 children who have come to know that their community will be here to keep their bodies nourished and nurtured.
I am personally excited at the potential we hold to ensure every one of our neighbors never has to worry about going hungry. And I hope – I know – you are too. I look forward to sharing our ongoing progress with you and invite you to get involved – volunteer in our programs; take a tour of our groundbreaking market; join us at Fill ‘Em Up Fest September 8, and at our Annual Breakfast in October; and become a sustaining donor. You’d be amazed at what we can accomplish with just $25 a month.
Here’s to a Path to Food Security!
ONT Launches Regional Assessment to Understand Barriers to Food
Over the last 8 months, the Food Security Advisory Group (FSAG) has convened and declared food insecurity an important issue in our region. More importantly, the members of the group have agreed that time and resources need to be dedicated to understanding and addressing hunger and food security for all residents. Working through its Regional Assessment Working Group, member agencies and municipalities have launched the first phase of our regional food security assessment. Surveys are being administered at Anna Jaques Hospital, Children’s Health Care, local Councils on Aging and online to start to understand where and why local residents experience barriers to getting enough food and getting enough nutritious food.
Join ONT's Run Out Hunger Team!
We need your help to Run Out Hunger! Runners (or non-runners!) of all abilities are invited to support ONT and get a VIP experience for the Newburyport Half Marathon on October 21. Each runner commits to raising a minimum of $500 to support Our Neighbors' Table, which will provide more than 500 meals to the community. Personalized online giving pages are available to easily collect donations from your family, friends, and co-workers.
Never run a half marathon before? No problem - we have you covered! Studio Five in Rowley is offering coaching to support your training to get you across the finish line.
2018 Great Neighbors
Thank you to these Great Neighbors for making a big impact on hunger. Join their ranks and become a Great Neighbor today!
ONT’s 2020 Strategic Plan lays a Path to Food Security, focusing on the communities of Newburyport, Salisbury and Merrimac, where current data demonstrates greatest need. The core component of ONT’s success in creating a food-secure Amesbury and expanding regional food security is its strategic partnerships with public and private institutions and with private citizens. ONT has convened local leaders to form the Food Security Advisory Group. Members include Anna Jaques Hospital, Children’s Health Care, Mayor Holaday (Newburyport), Mayor Gray (Amesbury), superintendents and school personnel from the Newburyport, Merrimac, Pentucket and Triton school districts, the Merrimac Police Department, Pettengill House, Newburyport and Salisbury Councils on Aging, and the Greater Boston Food Bank.
Over the last 8 months, the Food Security Advisory Group (FSAG) has convened and declared food insecurity an important issue in our region. More importantly, the members of the group have agreed that time and resources need to be dedicated to understanding and addressing hunger and food security for all residents. Working through its Regional Assessment Working Group, member agencies and municipalities have launched the first phase of our regional food security assessment. Surveys are being administered at Anna Jaques Hospital, Children’s Health Care, local Councils on Aging, libraries and online to start to understand where and why local residents experience barriers to getting enough food and getting enough nutritious food.
“Current research shows that 80% of illnesses and hospitalizations are tied directly to the food that we eat,” shares Dr. Gail Fayre, Chief Medical Officer at Anna Jaques Hospital. “Our joint efforts will help inform best practices to address local need.”
Over the next two years, ONT and the FSAG will focus on uncovering areas of unmet need and developing creative strategies to ensure no one falls through the cracks. “Our region is fortunate to have a number of food resources available. The challenge is understanding why people do not or can not participate in these resources and if the existing programs are best suited to meet their need,” states Lyndsey Haight. “But we are deeply encouraged by the interest and commitment of local leaders to solve this problem.”
For more information about the Food Security Advisory Group or how you can get involved with the regional assessment, please contact ONT Executive Director, Lyndsey Haight, at email@example.com.
Volunteer Spotlight- Mike Pollard
Have you ever wondered how Our Neighbors’ Table gets all of its food? Well, a large part of it comes from the Greater Boston Food Bank located in South Boston. And thanks to Amesbury resident and ONT volunteer Mike Pollard, it arrives at our Market and into the shopping carts of our guests. Twice a week, Mike drives the ONT box truck down to Boston and brings it back to the Jardis-Taylor Center full of pallets of fresh produce, dairy, meat, and non-perishable items. Mike logs over 165 miles per week for ONT and we would be lost without him!
Mike has been volunteering for ONT for a long time—so long in fact, he can’t remember when he started! He thinks it’s been about four or five years. He began volunteering after he retired from his career as a self-employed chimney sweep. “I had a lot of time on my hands,” Mike said. “I liked the idea of driving. I was a little involved in social programs before but was frustrated not knowing if I was doing things effectively. Driving a truck is straight forward, and I know I’m doing it right.”
Mike is also a key piece of the Merrimac Mobile Market. He drives the truck full of fresh produce and wholesome food to the Merrimac Senior Center one Saturday a month. Mike has a valued volunteerism for much of his life. He served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in 1970 with New Hampshire Legal Services. When he’s not volunteering with ONT, Mike enjoys exercising, reading, spending time with his wife and finding the best baked goods to satisfy his sweet tooth.
When asked why he volunteers Mike says, “I like giving to the community. It makes me feel good and it’s satisfying. I like being reliable and I believe providing food to people is really important.”
Want to volunteer like Mike? Complete our volunteer application and we'll get you started!