As many of us prepare to give thanks and share meals with loved ones this Thanksgiving, we’re thinking about how sharing meals can change the lives of those around us. At the Cambridge Community Foundation, we believe everyone should have access to food not just during the holidays, but always. Eating is not a privilege or opportunity, it’s a right. This year, we committed more than $300,000 to honor and support a range of nonprofits addressing food insecurity whose missions are to provide nutritious food to those in need with dignity and respect, crossing all boundaries.
But the challenges are many. For our food insecure neighbors, income disparity, financial and economic uncertainty, and racial inequity create obstacles to the basic human need to access meals that meet dietary needs. For community nonprofits working tirelessly to address hunger, limited resources, declines in donations, staffing shortages, and increasing demand slow progress.
During the pandemic, food insecurity data revealed nearly 20 percent of households in Massachusetts were unable to put food on the table. But today, due to the rising cost of housing and other basic needs, a startling 21 percent of households with children face food insecurity. As individuals and families in Cambridge and beyond struggle to eat, restaurants, caterers, grocery stores, and other establishments discard consumable food. That’s why innovative, community-based solutions to address hunger matter more than ever.
Thanks to food rescue organizations such as Food for Free and Loving Spoonfuls, healthy, fresh food that would otherwise be discarded, is collected and distributed to food pantries, hunger relief programs, groceries, shelters, and social service organizations. These safe, sustainable, and nutritious “leftovers” not only feed those in need, but they also help reduce food waste. The Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, through food rescue and generous donations, continues to provide emergency food and food supplies to low-income residents positively impacting more than 6,000 people each year. Community-based nonprofit grocery chain, the Daily Table, brings healthy, culturally relevant, affordable (and SNAP-eligible) food to all residents, and offers free programs to help stretch food budgets.
These, and other evidence-based programs, are committed to reducing food insecurity in Cambridge, and through support and partnerships continue to move forward despite challenges. We encourage you to explore with us how you might share in the efforts to feed hungry neighbors–whether by volunteering, donating, or preparing a meal for a family in need. It is through our united efforts that hope is created and real change is made, so all people in our community might experience peace this holiday season and beyond.
Project Bread, City of Cambridge, 2017 Cambridge Needs Assessment