ONT's holiday programs offer a variety of special groceries to help families prepare a delicious holiday meal in their own home for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
If you are a new guest and have never shopped with ONT before, please visit our new guest registration page to get signed up for the holidays.
New this year, registration will not be necessary for current ONT guests. You will simply order your groceries online as usual the week before Thanksgiving and schedule your pick-up for the following day. You will see the available holiday groceries included in your choice of selections that week (including Thanksgiving turkey or chicken and a $10 gift card).
There will be extended grocery pick-up hours for Thanksgiving grocery distribution.
Just like Thanksgiving, pre-registration is not required for current ONT guests. The extra holiday groceries and $10 gift card will be available when you place your grocery order the week before Christmas. We do not have turkeys or chickens for Christmas.
There will be extended grocery pick-up hours for Christmas grocery distribution on the following days:
By Lyndsey Haight, Executive Director, Our Neighbors' Table
“I’ve done everything I can to not have to come here. I’m sorry. I will only take a few things and hopefully won’t have to come too often.” These are the words that we hear almost universally from people coming to get food at Our Neighbors’ Table for the first time. The sacrifices guests make before they walk into our doors for the first time - from cutting out fresh fruits and vegetables, to putting groceries on credit cards, skipping prescription refills in order to buy groceries, or simply not eating for days on end so their children can eat – are substantial. Yet, walking through the door to ask for help is never easy.
If you’ve been to an ONT volunteer orientation, you’ve heard the stories; if you’ve volunteered at ONT, you’ve witnessed the guilt, shame and fear first-hand. You also understand it is our number one goal to make every single person feel welcomed and to lift the fear and feelings that may prevent them from coming back.
ONT’s work was founded on the values of Service with Dignity, Community and Respect. Our founders welcomed their neighbors to break bread together so no one went hungry, but more importantly to ensure no one felt they had to go it alone. For 28 years, ONT has been powered by helpers doing what they can, sharing what they have, and lifting each other up along the way, resulting in, perhaps, the first food-secure city in the nation. As they say, rising tides raise all ships. Even after nearly three decades, the perseverance of these values takes work. In 2011, we took the time to articulate them, make them part of our long-term strategies. In 2015, we began and continue training all of our staff and volunteers – new and tenured – to put these values into action. Every day, we ask ourselves if our decisions are aligned with these values and we expect our guests, our community to call us out if we go astray.
I love to meet new people and welcome them into our mission. Giving tours and sharing our work is a favorite part of my job. I’ve had the opportunity to sit with new guests and donors alike. And there is a striking difference in the conversations. While just about every guest tries to qualify their request for help, almost every single tour includes the questions: “How do you make sure people really need the help? Do they have to qualify?” In the course of 20 years, I have come to see there are various experiences that compel people to ask this question. Usually, those experiences are 3rd party, stories told, of someone taking advantage of the system. The person in line at the grocery store using food stamps to buy liquor. The breeding of dependency if we let people collect welfare. Maybe they are first-hand: ‘I know Mr. So-and-So comes to your dinner every week but he has money to buy his own food’. There are lots of different perceptions about people who ask for help. It has also been my experience that one shift at ONT getting to know your neighbors who shop here for food quickly replaces those perceptions with relationships, connectedness and, alas, a sense of community. I understand all this. The unknown. A knowledge vacuum filled in with information that may or may not be based in real life, but it fills a void until something else can.
But there is something else inherent in the questions about qualifying people to receive help. This question is rooted in the assumption that the help is mine to decide whether or not to share; that I have the power and authority – the right – to decide whether or not someone is worthy to receive food. This power dynamic is inevitable in every charitable food system dependent on the goodwill of a few. At the very core of Our Neighbors’ Table is the belief and practice that we are all deserving; that none of us is more or less deserving to receive help; and none of us is more or less deserving to control when and where help is given. The community invests its time and treasure in our mission because we all agree that food needs to be available to everyone and the community entrusts us to do just that. While many give to our mission under charitable motives, those who sustain our work know we are much more than a charitable food assistance organization; we strive toward universal food security, toward a just food system that serves us all. This can only be achieved when those of us who hold power over resources recognize that power and relinquish it and allow others to gain their own access.
True, we carry the burden of only having resources to serve 12 communities when we know our neighboring cities and towns could also use the help. We truly struggle with this every day we turn someone away. But, we have found a way to ensure that our region’s resources are distributed and available universally and our work every day is to achieve that to the best of our ability.
In the last month, we have all heard (and maybe even shouted) the cries for an end to racism and the systemic racism that permeates every aspect of American life. Many are organizing or continue their work centuries in the making, many others may be reflecting at home wondering what role might you have played, or what role you can play now. If you’re reading this, and wondering what you can do, I offer what we, at ONT, have come to know and strive to practice every day as it comes to serving our mission
Our Neighbors’ Table’s grocery programs remain open in the curbside pick-up. Our priority is and will continue to be ensuring people have consistent, reliable access to food as safely as possible.
ONT shifted to an entirely curbside model for grocery distribution on March 2020 and will remain operating in the curbside pick-up model for the foreseeable future. Guests can pre-order groceries online and schedule the time to pick-up. If you cannot order online, please call 978-388-1907 to place your order. Groceries will be delivered directly to your car during your scheduled pick-up time. If you cannot leave your house, please have someone pick up for you. If you need delivery, please call 978-388-1907.
Ordering is for next day pick-up. We're sorry but we cannot process same-day pick-ups. Please place your order by 3:00pm the day before you want to pick it up. New guests must fill out a guest registration form before ordering and allow 24 hours for processing.
Curbside pick-up will be available at the following locations.
Amesbury Market - Our Neighbors' Table, 194 Main Street
Wednesday Meal - Main Street Congregational Church, 145 Main Street, Amesbury
In addition to ONT's programs, we are maintaining an updated list of food resources across the region. You can view this list online or download a copy to your computer. Remember to check back regularly as things continue to change.
To do our part to minimize risk of infection and to allay fears of exposure in our community, ONT is taking the following steps:
How can you help?
Lyndsey Haight, Executive Director, x11
Lori Townsend, Program Director, x12
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
ONT is excited to officially announce the opening of a weekly market in Newburyport. The program opened in June thanks to a partnership with Community Service of Newburyport and is currently serving residents of Newburyport, Newbury and West Newbury every Thursday, 11:00am – 2:00pm. After years of partnering on referring local residents to each agency’s services, CSN’s move to their new location at St. Paul’s Church in 2018 was the catalyst to bring ONT and CSN’s strengths and resources under one roof. The soft opening in June allowed both organizations to get settled in and work out any challenges. CSN officially welcomed the community at their ribbon-cutting on October 22nd, and both organizations are now looking forward to getting the word out.
Contrary to public perception, Newburyport has the most residents struggling with food insecurity of the 12 cities and towns served by Our Neighbors’ Table. Based on data from the Greater Boston Food Bank, more than 1300 people living in Newburyport do not have a reliable source of food every day. What’s also staggering: of those in need, only about 40% are actually accessing help through public or private organizations. “The need is there, but it’s out of sight. It’s hiding in the shadows,” shares ONT Executive Director Lyndsey Haight. ONT guests often report feelings of shame or embarrassment for needing help, a feeling ONT works to break down through our focus on hospitality and a dignified shopping experience. “We’ve been focused on treating each other with kindness and respect for 26 years. Providing service with dignity is the right thing to do, and it’s also the most effective way to bring people out of the shadows and get them the help they need,” says Haight. “Our markets might be bright and pretty, but we still understand that no one wants to have to shop here. So our priority is to make it as enjoyable as possible and to ensure that we offer the food selections that our guests tell us they need most.”
For the last five months, ONT has been working with Newburyport residents and leaders to build an infrastructure to ensure no one has to go hungry. Building on the success in Amesbury, which was declared a Food-Secure City earlier in 2018, ONT is focused on partnerships, raising awareness of the need and reaching out to residents in need. Drawing from the data provided by GBFB, ONT has partnered with the Councils on Aging in Newburyport and Salisbury, Anna Jaques Hospital and Children’s Health Care to conduct a local needs assessment to understand where, for whom and why food insecurity persists. The first 30-day survey phase was completed in September and revealed that, of 250 respondents, 1 out of 4 (25%) reported experiencing food insecurity in the last year. Survey participants cross all ages and gender. Employment was cited most often as their primary source of income, yet the vast majority of respondents identify lack of enough money as their primary barrier to accessing food.
The information gathered is being used to drive further research and to implement creative programming and strategies to eliminate barriers between people and food. The weekly Newburyport Market is a first step. Partnerships with Newburyport Public Schools and Children’s Health Care are helping to reach people where they are, break down the stigma and shame, and help people get the help they need. Since just last year, ONT has already seen a 70% increase in the number of Newburyport residents accessing their market programs.
Our Neighbors' Table is a place where the whole family can get involved in the fight against hunger in our community.
Some of our most inspiring supporters are our littlest ones. Children come to our doors with food or toothpaste they've collected for neighbors; with checks made out to ONT they've requested from family members instead of birthday gifts; or with their fellow scouts eager to learn about how they can help their community.
The ONT WEE Can Help! program offers special shifts tailored for volunteers ages 5-7 years, accompanied by their favorite adult. WEE Can Help volunteers perform the important task of stocking our Market shelves after it closes on Wednesdays. It's a great opportunity to learn counting, reading labels, grouping, and a sense of helping others. WEE Can Help is also a great chance for parents to teach their children through their own volunteerism.
Shifts are limited to ensure the best experience for every volunteer. All accompanying adults are required to complete a volunteer application and attend a volunteer orientation prior to registering for WEE Can Help shifts. For more details, feel free to email Alice or call her at 978-388-1907 x15.
The Market at Our Neighbors' Table will not be open the week of Thanksgiving (Nov. 20 - 25). The ONT office is open 9am - 4pm on Tuesday and 9am - 12pm on Wednesday. The office and the Market will both be closed for the holiday Nov. 23 - Nov. 26.
There will be a Wednesday Meal at Main Street Congregation Church on Nov. 22. Chicken broccoli ziti will be served from 4pm - 6pm.
If you are seeking food this week, the following organizations are available at the following times.
Many people, when they think of Our Neighbors’ Table, think immediately of the Wednesday Meal. Others think of our Amesbury Food Pantry. For hungry families in Merrimac, Our Neighbors’ Table means the Merrimac Mobile Food Pantry! For six years, the Merrimac Mobile Food Pantry, operated by a small group of dedicated volunteers, has provided groceries (including milk, eggs, meat and fresh produce) to residents of the town of Merrimac. 181 households have registered since the beginning of the program, and an average of 50-60 households are served at each pantry.
Volunteers gather on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays of every month at the Merrimac Senior Center at approximately 9:00 am and begin to set up tables. Once the ONT truck arrives full of groceries, they unload the truck and set up all the food, usually with the help of guests who have come early to lend a hand. In a 2-hour span, volunteers will set-up, check-in, distribute, carry, deliver, reload the truck and clean-up! According to volunteer Sue Ranshaw, who coordinates the Merrimac Mobile Pantry, what makes these volunteers remarkable isn’t just their efficiency, it’s that they work together so well as a group. She describes them as one big family – where they get to know the guests by name – and they have a wonderful time with lots of laughs, hugs and genuine affection! The volunteers are exceptionally hardworking and dependable, Sue says, but more importantly, they are extremely kind and respectful to anyone who comes for food, exemplifying ONT’s mission to provide guests with nourishing food, kindness, dignity and community.
Volunteers include Sue Ranshaw, Nancy Bachelder, Diana and Bob Domings, Marilyn Dutton, Betty Elliott, Colleen and Nick Fiorello, Gail and John Korpusik, Ingrid and Gene Robinson, Dave Olson, Clint Furnald, and Jim Christofferson. The youngest volunteer, Jason Attili, has been coming since last fall and is one of the hardest workers, doing anything and everything that needs doing without being asked! We would like to take this opportunity to thank these wonderful volunteers for all that they do for Our Neighbors’ Table and for their community!