Our Neighbors’ Table has secured both short and long-term investments that help make this vision possible:
- A three-year grant of $150,000 from the Mary Alice Arakelian Foundation launched a program to implement universal food insecurity screening and intervention for Children’s Health Care’s 16,000 patients.
- A sustaining grant from the Cummings Foundation, $500,000 over 10 years, that allowed the organization to project the possibility of a food secure region by 2029.
- Additional investments from the United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley and Steward Health are putting the critical work of the FSAG into action and giving it the capacity to evaluate the impact of food security on the health and stability of the entire community.
“The volume of meals we have distributed has more than doubled over the last three years. Our focus now is ensuring those meals get into the hands of all of our neighbors who need it,” explains Executive Director Lyndsey Haight. . “While the economy is thriving for some, we are seeing more and more people in our community falling through the cracks. We’ve seen first-hand the impact we can have when individuals, city- and town-services, businesses, and community groups come together. Food security is something we can provide for every person living in our community.”
Despite the economic recovery and the prevalence of wealth in the region, the level of food insecurity in northeastern Essex County has increased by almost 10%, by more than 15% in Newburyport and by 40% in Salisbury, since 2015 (data provided by Greater Boston Food Bank).
Serving 11 communities of northeastern Essex County, ONT has established a strong collective formally known as the Food Security Advisory Council (FSAG) that is working together to better understand the barriers that prevent local residents from accessing adequate and nutritious food on a daily basis and to formalize effective strategies to make food available and accessible to everyone when and where it is needed.
Food Insecurity is defined by the USDA is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food.
The Food Security Advisory Council includes the Mayors of Newburyport and Amesbury; Anna Jaques Hospital, Superintendents from the Amesbury, Newburyport, Triton and Pentucket school districts; Children’s Health Care; Councils on Aging in Salisbury and Newburyport; and law enforcement, social service providers, and town officials from across the region.
Hunger affects 1 out of every 16 people living in northeastern Essex County. That means there are 6,000 neighbors with empty plates on their tables. Even more staggering, 1 out of every 5 of our seniors and 1 out of every 8 children in our region are struggling through each day without enough food. Our Neighbors’ Table has eliminated the traditional approach of strict schedules, cumbersome qualification and limited food selection by offering people-centric experiences and access to fresh, wholesome food when and where people throughout northeastern Essex County need it. Our grocery programs provide food assistance to individuals and families living in Amesbury, Boxford, Byfield, Georgetown, Groveland, Merrimac, Newbury, Newburyport, Rowley, Salisbury, South Hampton (NH), and West Newbury. Visit ourneighborstable.org for more information.