Many students receive their only meal of the day while attending school. At Eliot School in the North End, 30 percent of the 740 students are food insecure and there are 40 homeless families. At the Harvard-Kent school in Charlestown, 50 percent of the 495 students live in public housing. Over 75 percent of the students are economically disadvantaged.
Due to the lack of convenient access and/or ability to afford healthy nutritious food, many people are unable to provide their families with a balanced diet. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down physical classes and pushed many people into unemployment, the issue of food insecurity has become more serious than ever.
Nearly four years ago in September of 2016, North End Waterfront (NEW) Health recognized the food insecurity issues that faced our community. At that time, they started the program ‘Over the Bridge.’ Mostly staff funded along with donations from restaurants in the community, NEW Health began serving monthly lunches at the Harvard-Kent school. Eighty bags of fresh produce (60 to Harvard-Kent and 20 to Eliot School) were delivered monthly. Monthly nutrition sessions were hosted, and an annual roof garden was started at NEW Health Charlestown.
Although this pandemic has changed life as we know it, NEW Health has continued to focus their efforts on ‘Over the Bridge.’ In March 2020, they delivered $800 dollars of grocery store gift cards to Traci Walker-Griffith and Jason Gallagher, Principals from Elliot and Harvard-Kent Schools. In April, they were able to increase the amount to $1000. These gift cards were distributed to families in need.
As time continues and the pandemic disrupts daily life, food insecurity remains a growing concern. NEW Health has continued their staff fundraising efforts to support ‘Over the Bridge.’ The North End Feast Societies have also teamed up to create an All Saints t-shirt. The proceeds from these t-shirt sales will go towards supporting food insecurity programs at NEW Health and ABCD.
If you’d like to donate to NEW Health’s program, ‘Over the Bridge,’ please visit http://bit.ly/Food-Donation-NEWHealth. During the coronavirus challenge, these donations will help provide children and their families with gift cards to local grocery stores. After, your donations will support the purchase of fresh produce.