We have been dreaming of this building for eight long years, and our grand opening this month is a result of the astounding generosity of so many in this town.'                                                       -- Lauren Ledger, board president

New headquarters for Arlington EATS, 2022Arlington EATS, at 117 Broadway, E. Arlington.

UPDATED Nov. 18: Arlington EATS plans to open the doors on Nov. 28 to its first dedicated operational headquarters in its more than 30-year history. The new building at 117 Broadway is the home of EATS Market and the organization’s offices. 

This long-planned accomplishment, near the Thompson School, comes as its records show that need has grown greatly since the pandemic began.

EATS Market, the effort's largest program, “is the term we use for our food pantry,” Andi Doane, executive director of EATS, told YourArlington, in response to queries.

“All the food is free for any Arlington resident who is in need of food. We transitioned from using the word 'food pantry' to 'market' several years ago as a way to dignify the process of coming to EATS.”

She added: "We want the community to know that we provide more than canned goods and pasta, which is what you often think of when you hear the word 'food pantry.' In addition to shelf-stable pantry items, we offer fresh produce, meat, dairy, eggs and tofu."

In a Nov. 15 news release, the nonprofit said it is bringing together neighbors struggling with food scarcity and neighbors concerned with food justice, giving them a welcoming, respectful place to work together to end hunger. At 2,633 square feet, the ADA-compliant space includes:

  • A market designed to create a dignified shopping experience;
  • A dedicated headquarters that increases efficiency and allows for more flexibility in shopping hours and services;
  • An adaptable community room that can serve as a classroom, a waiting room and event space, or a staging area for emergency responses;
  • Breakout spaces that allow EATS to more effectively partner with other social-service organizations; and
  • More-than-doubled storage capacity for frozen and refrigerated food, allowing EATS to serve more fresh and culturally appropriate items.
St. John's Church location closing

EATS Market, which has been based at St. John’s Church since 2019, will close from Nov. 21 through 25 for the move.

Beginning Monday, Nov. 28, market "shopping" hours -- though all food is free to "customers" -- at 117 Broadway will be:

EATS logo

Mondays, 2-4 p.m and 4:30-7 p.m.;

Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to noon; and

Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to noon.

The leaders behind EATS began planning for the project in 2014, and in 2020 they launched the Neighbors Building Together capital campaign, reaching the $1.25 million goal by the end of last year. 

“We have been dreaming of this building for eight long years, and our grand opening this month is a result of the astounding generosity of so many in this town,” said Lauren Ledger, president of the board of EATS, in the release. “The place we’ve created together is a testament to the strength of the Arlington community and the time, sweat and treasure that our residents devote to supporting their neighbors. We are grateful and inspired -- and hope that EATS Market and 117 Broadway will be a resource to our entire community.”

Under one roof; serves 63% more households

The building project was funded by more than 150 individuals and businesses in addition to a $332,437 Community Development Block Grant from the Town of Arlington.

“We started planning this project before the pandemic, but we always had flexibility in mind,” said Doane, in the release.

“The shift to delivery and the increase in need during the lockdown as well as ongoing supply-chain issues taught us a lot about our strengths as an organization and reinforced the importance of adaptability. Our new headquarters brings our operations and offices under one roof, making us more efficient and responsive so we can meet our community’s needs whatever they are. We are excited to open our doors and welcome people in,” she continued.

Arlington EATS serves 63 percent more households each week than it did before the onset of the pandemic in March 2020; in January through March 2020, EATS served an average of 171 households a week, but by June through August 2022, that number climbed to 264 on average.

Doane provided the following responses to further queries:

What do the letters in EATS stand for?

"When EATS was first founded in 2014, it stood for 'eating all through the summer,' as reference to our summer lunch program. However, the original EATS grew to provide more than just summer lunches. When Arlington EATS and the Arlington Food Pantry merged, we decided to rebrand the entire organization as Arlington EATS and kept the capitalization as a reminder of where we came from. However, today, EATS is no longer an acronym." 

EATS began as an effort to help the Thompson School community. How does its history go back 30 years?

"Yes, the history of EATS has many facets and includes both organizations -- the original Arlington EATS and the Arlington Food Pantry. For a complete record of our history, you can view the timeline on our website." 

Does EATS collect data as to who its clients are demographically?

"It's often thought that families who use EATS just come from East Arlington, but the reality is our guests come from every corner of Arlington. In a town like Arlington, it's easy to forget that many of us are living paycheck to paycheck -- and something like a job loss or medical crisis can upset the balance."

Have the nonprofit's leaders formed opinions about why need has increased so much since the pandemic? 

"Right now, we know that families are struggling due to inflation. According to the [U.S.] Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of food rose 13.5 percent over the past 12 months, which is the largest 12-month increase since 1979. As we see higher food prices at the grocery store, families are turning to EATS to supplement what they can afford at the grocery store."

Where does EATS get its food? What proportion comes from retail grocery stores in the area, what from donations from local families/individuals?

EATS receives its food from a variety of sources. In fiscal 2022, it came from these sources:
73% from the Greater Boston Food Bank, which is a combination of donated and paid;
12% from community donations;
8% we purchased from wholesalers;
4% from FoodLink; and
3% from the Boston Area Gleaners.

Does EATS need more food donations heading into the holidays? How and when can food donations be conveyed?

As you can see above, a good portion of our food comes from donations from the community, which allows us to stock more variety on our shelves.  The EATS website has a list of accepted items, but each month we try to focus on specific items, which can be found on our social-media accounts or in our newsletters. In December EATS is focused on cookie and cake mixes, nuts and snacks.

Visit arlingtoneats.org to learn more about how to support programs at EATS. 

March 26, 2021: Arlington Beats for EATS at Home raises over $50K


This news announcement was published Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022, based on a news release from Arlington EATS. It was updated Nov. 16, and Nov. 18, with responses to questions from freelance reporter Judith Pfeffer.