UPDATED, June 5: Lines were extra long both morning and evening at the town food pantry last week on Broadway – its last distribution at that site -- in advance of its very temporary closing before its reopening at its new location.
Arlington EATS Market -- known until March as the Arlington Food Pantry -- closed Wednesday, May 29, so that organizers and volunteers can move into the new location: St John's Church, 74 Pleasant St. It will reopen Wednesday, June 5.
This will be the location, Andi Doane, executive director, wrote, for about the next two years, until the effort can return to 117 Broadway in a new commercial space as part of the mixed-used development for that property.
For now, nothing is changing except the location.
When it reopens , Arlington EATS Market will have normal weekly “distribution” to serve all low-income Arlington residents who choose to "shop" there.
As before, the hours open to customers will be every Wednesday, twice per day: from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The only time that schedule is not followed is for major holidays or extreme weather. Such changes are usually announced in advance.
Everything is available at no cost. Offerings change weekly but typically include a wide range of nonperishables (pasta, rice, canned vegetables/fruits, cereal, canned meats, condiments, shelf-stable juice/milk) plus some fresh food: meat, eggs, cheese, yogurt, bread, pastries and raw vegetables/fruits. Often, nonfood essentials – shampoo, toothpaste, tissue and the like – also are provided in limited quantities.
What is available in any given week depends on donations from supermarkets, farmers, nonprofit organizations and individuals.
Starting the week of June 10, Market donation drop-offs will be accepted from 9 to 11 a.m. on Tuesdays, and from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and again from 4:30 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The name of the food pantry adopted earlier this spring reflects the fact that nearly two years earlier -- in July 2017 -- it merged with another local nonprofit organization with a similar mission: Arlington Eats.
Doane provided some history. The return to 117 Broadway “was always the plan when Housing Corporation of Arlington purchased the property in 2014. They are developing more affordable-housing apartments on that site, and we will have commercial space on the first floor. We will be able to design a space that will fit our unique needs of providing a variety of programs related to eliminating hunger in Arlington.”
The 117 Broadway location, the site of a diner before the food pantry was there, will be demolished at some point to make way for a mixed-use development.
"Five years ago a group of churches met to address food insecurity and affordable housing in Arlington, and at the same time, Housing Corporation of Arlington was able to purchase the property at 117 Broadway. The working group of churches identified an opportunity to help expand the Food Pantry operations to the Broadway facility while HCA was getting funding for construction. The plan evolved that the Food Pantry could rent commercial space in the new building.
“The group of churches knew a period of time would eventually come where the Food Pantry would be displaced during the construction phase. Saint John's, which was a part of that church group, enthusiastically opened its arms to welcome us during the construction phase,” Doane said. “We have all been patiently waiting for the plan to come together. It did in February, and so we have been feverishly working with Saint John's to create a temporary space within the parish hall.”
Doane noted that typically the market serves 200 families a week with up to 50 pounds of groceries per family on each visit. “We serve any Arlington resident in need of food. On a shopper's first visit to the Market, we request they fill out an application and provide proof they are an Arlington resident. We serve families, seniors, immigrants, those who are unemployed and those who just need a little extra assistance to make their monthly budget work."
The food pantry’s mission statement reads in part: “dedicated to eliminating food insecurity by providing nutritious and culturally appropriate food in a respectful and compassionate manner to any Arlington resident in need.”
This news summary by YourArlington freelancer Judith Pfeffer was published Monday, May 27, 2019, and updated May 29, to add new logo and clarify copy, as well as May 30, to add copy.
FACEBOOK BOX: To see all images, click the PHOTOS link just below