Imagine a community where every child starts the school day with a nutritious breakfast, where their bodies and minds are nourished and their hearts are raised up by the village around them. The truth right now is that 1 out of 8 children in our region live in a food-insecure home. Their parents are struggling to make ends meet, trading heating bills for groceries or gas to get to work. And every day, our children are thinking about being hungry instead of focusing on learning.
Hunger feels like an insurmountable problem, but we’ve seen the difference we are making. This year’s Annual Breakfast gave us a glimpse into the future. We heard from Josh and Jill, who both turned to ONT – Josh as a teenager living on his own, Jill as a single mom seeking a better future for her sons – and who are now flourishing and paying it forward. We learned from their stories that it wasn’t easy to ask for help. But what a lesson it was for us to witness Jill sharing her experience with Dr. Lars Lundgren from Children’s Health Care. Fifteen years ago, Dr. Lundgren was Jill’s family pediatrician. Today, Dr. Lundgren is leading his practice as a Medical Home, partnering with ONT to integrate food security into health care.
ONT is excited about the new partnership with Children’s Health Care. Seeded with a 3-year grant from the Mary Alice Arakelian Foundation, this partnership gives families like Jill’s a trusted partner in their pediatrician where they can work together to connect the whole family with ONT’s programs. This is a growing practice in health care and ONT is proud to be leading the way.
Today, we don’t have to just imagine a community where every child is fed. We’ve created that here in Amesbury. Through our growing partnerships and by sharing our stories, we will soon have a food secure region. As we enter this holiday season, give thanks to those around us. Your local businesses, your elected officials, your teachers, your girl and boy scouts, your friends, and your neighbors. I thank you for being so bold to make this imagined place a real place right here.
ONT Now a SNAP Outreach Partner
SNAP is a monthly allowance provided so that you can purchase your groceries in any local grocery store. The money is put on a special card that works just like a debit card and is accepted at all of the local grocery store chains. ONT is now a SNAP Outreach Partner so you can process your SNAP applications and recertifications right in our Amesbury office! Our Food Resource Advocate Tress Ricker is new to our team but has many years of experience to help you navigate the often confusing process. To schedule a time with Tress for help with SNAP, please call 978-388-1907 x18 or pop into the intake office during Market hours. Read more about SNAP and ONT's partnership here.
News & Events
Check out the complete list of events, hours and holiday programming!
Thank you to our 2019 Great Neighbors!
November and December are a busy time at Our Neighbors' Table! Please check out our upcoming important program dates.
Thanksgiving Holiday Food Distribution (by appointment):
Christmas Holiday Food Distribution (by appointment):
Office & Market Holiday Closures
You probably know the acronym PTO, short for Paid Time Off, but have you ever heard of VTO—Volunteer Time Off? David Berlind says “I was a chronic procrastinator about volunteering, I always had an excuse. But then my company said take 56 hours a year and go work for someone else. So, I didn’t have any excuses anymore.”
David came to ONT volunteer orientation in January 2019, and quickly got involved doing restocking in the market on Wednesdays and food donation pickups on Thursdays. David logged his volunteer hours with the company he works for, Salesforce. Doing two, sometimes three shifts every week though, David hit his 56 hours of VTO pretty quickly. But according to David, “I can’t stop. I feel like I’m now part of a family.” In August, Salesforce awarded Our Neighbors’ Table a “Volunteer Rockstar Grant” in David’s name.
David will tell you one of the things he loves about ONT is its size and local impact. “Because it’s small, you get to see the effectiveness of the organization. You get to know guests, and their kids.” When David first inquired about volunteering, he says he envisioned a food pantry with the bare necessities. Now, he has realized ONT is able to bring joy and abundance to families that can’t normally afford treats like the cakes David picks up from Stop and Shop on his usual Thursday volunteer shift. David echoes a sentiment that is common among our volunteers, “Any one of use could get something that knocks us off our feet. It’s up to the rest of us to take care of one another, especially in this political climate.” David has lived in Newburyport since 2003. When he is not working or volunteering, he likes to fix old radios and amps, play guitar, sail, and be with his family.
The holidays are a time of cheer and gratitude as folks enjoy spending time with loved ones and celebrating the joys of the season. What better way to say "thank you" for your life’s blessings than to pay it forward? Read on to find out ways to give back this holiday season with ONT.
This year's Annual Breakfast drew 300 community members, our largest crowd to date! It was an inspiring and energizing morning for all in attendance as we saw the power of neighbors helping neighbors, and how support yesterday and today can create a brighter future. The actions of volunteers, donors and community partners are "Feeding the Future" and changing lives for years to come.
We were honored to have Joshua Frappier and Jill Weiss Hrubes share their personal experiences with ONT with the audience. Josh came to ONT with his family as a kid, and then came to depend on the Wednesday Meal when he was living on his own as teenager. Jill started volunteering with ONT in the early years, but after a divorce found herself needing ONT’s services to feed her 3 boys as a single mom. It was powerful to hear how the nourishing food and kindness Jill and Josh received from ONT during a tough time in their lives propelled them forward. Jill put herself through school and her boys are now in college or have graduated from college. Josh is now the CEO of the Frappier Group and served 2 tours with the Marines overseas. The support from ONT fed their futures and changed their lives.
Dr. Lars Lundgren, CEO of Children’s Health Care, also participated on our panel to share ONT’s new partnership with the practice to screen for food insecurity in children. In an especially moving moment of the morning, Jill explained how she would have been hesitant to share the family’s struggles with food insecurity with her kids’ pediatrician for fear of losing her children. Children’s Health Care is committed to connecting their patients and their families with the necessary resources, including food. Thanks to Dr. Lundgren and his team for turning this model of care on its head.
Another highlight of the morning was honoring our 2019 Community Champions. Jonathan Burke was honored as our Individual Champion for advocating for our mission and setting an honorable example for our future community leaders. Jonathan started volunteering with ONT’s Wednesday Meal for high school community service when he was 15. Now 24, Jonathan has rarely missed a Wednesday helping in the kitchen. US Foods was honored as our Corporate Champion for their in-kind support of ONT as a food rescue partner. US Foods has donated almost 1 million pounds of food in the last 2 years, quality food that enhances our Market and Meal programs. It would have been easier to throw that surplus food in the dumpster, but US Foods is committed to donating it back to the community and onto the tables of our neighbors.
Special thanks to Dana Marshall of 92.5 the River for serving as our emcee and panel host. Thank you to all who attended, sponsored and donated to feed the future. After the Breakfast, a first-time attendee captured it perfectly. "When you engage a community using authenticity and an undeniably deep,human connection, you create powerful opportunities to change lives in the most extraordinary ways...this morning was a clear validation that the ONT mission is being carried out one person at a time."
To create a food secure region, we must address the SNAP Gap – the percent of people who are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) but are not getting it. SNAP is a powerful piece of our collective toolkit to alleviate hunger, lift individuals and families from poverty, and improve local economies. SNAP is a federal program that provides recipients with a monthly food allowance used to purchase food at local stores. However it can be difficult to navigate the SNAP enrollment process. Feedback from ONT guests sheds light on the challenges including lack of access to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to enroll in person, uncertainty if they are eligible for benefits, and low benefit allowances.
ONT is now a SNAP enrollment site to ensure registering for these benefits is as accessible and easy as possible. Tress Ricker, ONT’s Food Resource Advocate, is available to help new applicants navigate the application process, answer questions about qualifying for SNAP and recertifying current SNAP beneficiaries. Not only will neighbors have access to more nutritious food, SNAP benefits will also free up money that can be used towards medication, rent and other living expenses. We’re thrilled to have Tress here as a friendly face and companion to help navigate an often intimidating and confusing web of services. To schedule a time with Tress for SNAP help, call 978-388-1907 x18 or pop into the intake office during Market hours.