ARC / Connect

Arlington EATS Supports Community through Pandemic

04.08.20 / BY ARC

Arlington EATS (EATS) is a non-profit organization committed to eliminating food insecurity by providing nutritious food to any resident in need in Arlington, Massachusetts. EATS has been operating since its beginnings as the Arlington Food Pantry nearly 20 years ago and using various temporary spaces thanks to the generosity of local churches. ARC began working with EATS in late 2019 on a pro bono basis to help them plan for their new home on the lower level of a soon-to-be constructed affordable housing project in East Arlington. The relationship grew out of a connection to ARC Principal, Peter Reiss, a resident of Arlington for over 20 years. During the pro bono phase, other ARC employees have donated their time, including Amber Ghory, John Fahnhorst, Maria McMorran, Troy Zhang, and fellow Arlington resident Rebecca Ray.

Arlington EATS community

During the coronavirus pandemic crisis, EATS has been working even more diligently to make sure that the most vulnerable residents have access to food, including replacement of the previously successful vacation lunch program that served lunches to children in need during long vacation breaks with a new focus on the delivery of food amidst increasingly difficult circumstances.

While dealing with all of the new challenges adapting to difficult conditions, new safety precautions, and a heightened need in the community, the EATS board of directors has also been able to work with ARC to collaboratively develop a plan for the design for their future space, including the recent transition to a design phase this month for pricing and planning for construction in 2021.

The design seeks to improve the traditional model of food pantries with open line methods for distributing food. Instead, the design aims to create a more intimate grocery-store type setting geared toward a calm and dignified method for allowing residents to view and select the food they need. The new 2,600 SF space will include this “market” for food distribution as well as a flexible lobby space to allow residents to wait inside before accessing the market, and thereby eliminating the need to line up on outside sidewalks as often found at traditional food pantries. This flexible lobby will also allow for various uses for gatherings for EATS as well as the larger Arlington community. The design also provides small meeting spaces for associated social services, offices for the EATS administrative staff, and open storage for EATS and its volunteers to easily manage the inventory of various food donations. The new design aspires to keep the organization running more efficiently in the future, with the expansion of hours and distribution to help even more residents.   

Arlington EATS design 2 Arlington EATTS design 1

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