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May 12, 2021
 
Arlington EATS Event Raises $50K, Beating Goal by 25%
Arlington Eats

April 1, 2021 — Arlington EATS, an Arlington-based nonprofit that works to eliminate food insecurity in the town, announced that it raised $50,000 via a virtual event, beating its goal by 25%, while engaged in a capital campaign to fund a permanent home.

Although the annual event, retitled this year as Beats for EATS At Home, did not surpass the previous $80,000 record, Andi Doane, executive director of Arlington EATS, said she was pleased that it drew participation from 400 town residents.

Funds raised, including $20,000 from sponsors and $20,000 from a silent auction, will support ongoing operations of Arlington EATS.

“This year we wanted to do more than just raise money,” Doane said. “We also wanted to educate people about food pantries and food insecurity in Arlington.”

Since the coronavirus crisis hit Massachusetts a year ago, the number of local residents served annually by Arlington EATS has expanded from about 1,800 before the pandemic to around 2,450 today.

To generate support for the fundraiser, previously held at Arlington town hall, Arlington EATS adopted a scavenger hunt approach this year. Participants were invited to tackle any of 150 questions, which, among other things, invited them to learn about local businesses, how to advocate at the State House to increase funding for food support, sign up for the organization’s newsletter, take a virtual tour of local museums, or donate.

“We wanted a fun component, something you could do with a family, even from the comfort of your own home,” Doane explained. “We wanted to reach everyone, not just people already active in the community, but also people who may be at home and those who don’t have access to social media.”

Doane foresees continued—and growing—need for her organization’s services, even as the pandemic is expected to recede.

To address local food insecurity over the longer term, Arlington EATS is currently engaged in a $1.25 million capital campaign to fund its first home – newly constructed space that will enable it to support 2,700 residents each year. To date, it has raised 85% of that amount.

The 2,700-square-foot building at 117 Broadway, set to open this fall, will feature a 250% increase in storage capacity for frozen and refrigerated food, as well as a flexible, multipurpose room that can serve as a classroom, a market waiting room, event space, or a staging area for emergency responses.

"We've been working toward this goal with a lot of support from the community for six years," said Susan Stewart, president of the board of Arlington EATS, said last fall. "Our new home will make it easier and more efficient for us to do our work of making sure every child, family, and senior has the food they need. It will allow us to connect with and educate the community about the underlying causes of food insecurity so we can develop innovative solutions together."

Arlington EATS traces its roots to 2014 when a local elementary school teacher realized that some of her students were experiencing behavior issues because they were hungry, and began by offering snacks in the schools. In 2017, it merged with the Arlington Food pantry (started in 1991) and adopted its current name in 2019. Today, the organization offers vacation and summer lunches.

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