February letter from Maria Stella Gulla, Director of ABCD North End / West End Neighborhood Service Center.
This month I would like to focus on senior hunger and the ways in which ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) works in the community as well as with its neighborhood partners and elected officials to reduce hunger among North End, West End, and Beacon Hill seniors. The NE/WE NSC envisions a community in which everyone has access to sufficient nutritious food. Through the support that we leverage from cash and in-kind donations, we create new ways to fight hunger and provide food to seniors in a fun and creative way.
For example, our community partner, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, has conducted food demonstrations onsite at our center. Their food rescue coordinator set up a food demonstration station and cooked a mouthwatering meal of crisp vegetables and pasta, all with spices that are easy on the waistline and low in sodium! Meanwhile, Head Cook Franco Palopoli duplicated the meal in our kitchen, and dished it up to NE/WE NSC seniors, volunteers, and staff. Guests at lunch took home bags of fresh produce, also from the Lovin’ Spoonful donation and Greater Boston Food Bank, to make the meal at home, also enabling them to stretch their food and food dollars further until they dine with us again.
We deliver direct services in the form of weekly congregate meals; two food pantries in the North End and West End neighborhoods; and application assistance for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
1. Congregate meals: The NE/WE NSC prepares hot meals on Mondays and Fridays in the North End at 1:00PM, with monthly holiday celebrations, including Thanksgiving, the December holidays, Mother’s and Father’s Day, and so forth. We offer a meal one Wednesday a month in the West End, alternating between the Amy Lowell Apartments and Blackstone Apartments. The center includes the seniors’ elected officials – our friends Senator Joe Boncore, Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Representative Jay Livingstone, City Councilor Lydia Edwards, Senator Sal Di Domenico, and City Councilor Josh Zakim – in these gatherings and the celebration serves as an opportunity for them to see their constituents and speak to and address issues that are of importance to our clients. The meals serve as a welcoming, nurturing environment for seniors to socialize with their peers; speak one another’s native languages; and disclose to staff problems that they are having (lack of heat or medical insurance, for instance).
2. Food pantries: The NE/WE NSC operates two food pantries, one in the North End open Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays 12:30PM-3:00PM and one in the West End, thanks to our collaboration with the West End Branch of the Boston Public Library and Head Librarian Helen Bender. The West End Pantry has hours Mondays and Wednesdays 11:30AM-1:30PM and Tuesdays 4:00PM-5:45PM. Our North End and West End pantries combined have given out over 32,000 lb. of food. Last year we gave over 130 turkeys during the Thanksgiving season.
3. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): SNAP provides nutrition education and monthly monetary benefits for designated food items. A senior or caregiver can find out if they might be eligible by calling the NE/WE NSC at 617-523-8125. A lot of seniors are missing out on SNAP right now. NE/WE NSC staff is available to help connect and enroll any eligible person in need for this program.
How can all of us make sure that older adults do not go hungry? Advocate, donate, and volunteer! The NE/WE NSC and your local community organizations are always in need of donated time, resources, and new friends! We especially need volunteers to cook for our twice-weekly hot meal program.
Until next month!
Maria Stella Gulla, Director
ABCD North End / West End Neighborhood Service Center
ABCD’s mission is to empower disadvantaged people by providing them with the tools to overcome poverty, live with dignity, and achieve their full potential. The North End / West End NSC offers a wide-range services to our community. To learn more, read the February 2018 Newsletter ABCD North End West End NSC.