The first question we are asked when we explain EATS to people is almost always, “How do you DO it?”
It’s a fair question! Even from inside the inner workings of EATS, it feels pretty miraculous the way things come together every week, every vacation, and even every day. As a relatively affluent community, Arlington isn’t eligible for any federal funding to run summer and vacation feeding programs, so we must rely on the kindness of our neighbors to make this happen.
Food! Obviously, the food is the most important element to the “how do you do it” question. While we do buy fresh milk, eggs and chicken every week, we also get an abundance of fresh, beautiful food donated to us through other groups:
- Food For Free is a powerhouse nonprofit based in Cambridge that delivers virtual mountains of fresh produce to our Pop Up Pantries all summer, and continues to provide throughout the year. They gave us nearly 3,000 pounds of food in our first year of operation and continue to amaze us each and every week.
- Food Link is another local food rescue organization that collects almost-expired but totally OK products from local retailers that would be throwing them away. They supply fresh fruit for our Snack Programs and a virtual cornucopia of surprises for our Weekend Food Program.
- EATS works closely with the Arlington Food Pantry to get available food to the folks who need it. While not the same organization, as many infer because of our parallel missions, EATS and the Arlington Food Pantry do maintain a strong symbiotic relationship, and we are so happy for their help.
- Donations, donations, donations. We love having schools or kids run food drives for us! Would you like to help with one? Contact us and we’ll set you up!
Our mission is one of inclusion, and everything we do starts and ends with that. No one is ever turned away from meals. Snacks in the schools are available to all students, not just those who can’t bring snacks from home, and because of this (we believe) the stigma associated with not having enough is minimized for those in need.
Volunteers! Everything accomplished by EATS is done by local volunteers committed to keeping Arlington’s students and their families nourished. Here are some great ways to get involved.
Donations! Every penny donated to EATS is used exclusively to provide food for Arlington students!