Located in the heart of East Boston's Maverick Square, the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen is the go-to destination for those hungry for nourishment and community. Welcome home.
The East Boston Community Soup Kitchen opens every Tuesday to provide free meals for all those who enter our doors. We strive to provide a sense of community to those affected by hunger, homelessness, and difficult life circumstances, while offering the humane treatment and compassionate many struggle to receive in their everyday lives.
Fueled by volunteer power and love for our neighbors, EBCSK is sustained by the generosity of our faithful supporters. We are fiscally sponsored by Zumix, a local East Boston nonprofit.
Open Every tuesday
breakfast 8:15 - 11am Lunch 12 - 2pm Dinner 5 - 7pm
Our Savior Lutheran Church
28 Paris St, Boston, MA 02128
A note from our Founder & Director:
I am Sandra Lorena Aleman Nijjar, Founder and Executive Director of the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen, where once a week, each Tuesday, I feed over one hundred folks who are food insecure. To give you a brief history of the birth and start-up of my tiny and humble East Boston Community Soup Kitchen initiative, well for a very long time (a few years) I had thought about setting up a space like a soup kitchen here in my home town of East Boston because I noticed that we have food pantries but we do not have a place where folks who are homeless can benefit from the non-perishable food since they do not have access to a kitchen to prepare a meal.
I noticed that we have a population of middle aged men without families and without small children who are addicts and live on the streets; and pretty much without any help, particularly the undocumented folks; but I had not had the time to work on it until late spring of 2016 when I became unemployed by the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA). I thought, well that was the time for me to work on this idea, because up to that time it was just that, an idea. However, I had sent an email to a group of neighbors, the no Eastie casino comrades, with whom I worked with to fight out the proposed casino at Suffolk Downs. I also posted on Facebook the East Boston open discussion, and I put it out there that we needed to do something to help our local homeless. Even though I did receive some feedback from both the email and from the Facebook post, only a couple of folks said that they were willing to help; but no one was willing to take the lead in organizing. So at that time I left it alone and I didn't go further with it, because at that time I didn't have the time to invest in organizing it.
However, when I was laid off, I used that opportunity to work on it; and so I started by reaching out to a handful of neighbors who I knew had a desire to help our homeless. Once I had the support from the handful of neighbors I went ahead and asked Pastor Don from the Our Saviour Lutheran Church, if I could use his space at the church to hold a meeting. Once that was approved I went ahead and wrote up my idea and invited more neighbors to my meeting, and at that first meeting on June 25th, 2016 I presented my idea to over twenty local neighbors.
Then I searched for a logo in Google and found the "tree", and I asked Lydia Edwards who is an attorney, if it was being claimed out there or could we use it temporarily. Well, the response was that no one was claiming it, so I went ahead and used it to create my Facebook page and my fliers. Later on like over two years later, we changed the logo into our very own logo with the help of an amazing web designer, Riko Cribbs, who was highly recommend by my grant writer, Ellie Doyle. Riko was incredibly patient with me and worked closely with me in the collaboration of the logo. I told her what I wanted and what I envisioned, and Riko understood me very well; and now here we have our very own logo.
To back track a bit, after the first meeting I immediately created a private Facebook page and invited only those who I felt were keen in supporting the effort. As I continued to organize weekly meetings the numbers started to drop from the over twenty folks that attended the first meeting, and just about each week we had less participants; but that didn't stop me from continuing to pursue and organize with the number of folks who continued to stay engaged, namely, Pastor Britta Meiers Carlson, Juliet Pyles, Lydia Edwards, who now is a city councilor for East Boston, Charlestown and the North End, Lisa Melara join us a bit later and made a huge difference, Mr. John Ribeiro Jr. and my husband Baljinder Nijjar, who over time has become my biggest support. I posted the minutes on the private Facebook page, keeping folks informed of the progress we were making each week.
So the few of us continued to meet each week, every Saturday at noon, to plan and work towards our goal of creating a soup kitchen as soon as possible in our very own Eastie, because we all believed in the need for having our very own soup kitchen here in Eastie; and so these very few volunteers/neighbors stayed engaged and stayed with me to help me out to get it started, and together we launched the soup kitchen for the first time.
Three months later following our first meeting which was on June 25th 2016, on September 14th, 2016, we opened up for the first time to serve our very vulnerable neighbors.
Over time, volunteers mentioned above checked out not too long after opening the soup kitchen and moved on to do other kindhearted things in their lives. But a couple of them still stayed tuned in, and are close by should there be a need for their support, and they are always there for us.
These kinds of changes have always brought me a level of anxiety and worry of losing solid help, but that didn't keep me from continuing the work; and thank God, there has always been kind folks who have come in to fulfill the gap left from the previous volunteers. This pretty much depicts the logo of a tree of hands which represents the leaves that come and go.
I was recalled back to work a few months after opening the soup kitchen, and I was brought back to my previous role, unemployment claims adjuster, and DUA was kind enough to prorate my pay, allowing me to have Tuesdays off, so I could continue with my work at my soup kitchen.
I worked for a few months and again I was laid off. I was fine with this set-up, but once the new director came in to take over, things changed drastically and I was no longer allowed to have Tuesdays off. I was told that I could keep my job as long as I was permanent full time employee, Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Well, I declined because I couldn't let go of my soup kitchen in such early stages of forming it, and there was no one to do all the work that was needed to be done.
Hard to believe but this year, September 14th will be our 3rd year anniversary, and here we are still running strong and serving our people.
We operate our East Boston Community Soup Kitchen service every Tuesday. We serve three healthy and fresh hot meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner. On average we serve about 150 to 275 meals each Tuesday throughout the day. In our soup kitchen space we serve a population that are mostly food insecure, are homeless, are heavy drug users, and also alcohol users. Our soup kitchen initiative is a donation and volunteer run initiative, so we are basically in the mercy of everyone each week to be able to provide this essential necessity to our most vulnerable neighbors.
In addition to providing a hot meal in a dignified space where folks are treated with compassion, respect, understanding, and with a non-judgmental attitude, we also do a lot of advocacy work, where we help our guests get connected to existing services in the area, such as showers, clean clothes, detox services, health care, along with assistance filling out forms for health insurance so they can receive medical care and medication. We also assist with filling out forms for employment, and preparing for court hearings, and there's so much more that we do to help folks get back on their feet.
All of this is accomplished with the collaboration and generosity of neighbors volunteering from near and from afar, and also from donations from businesses and organizations supporting us. It certainly is a village that comes together each week to care for the folks that are invisible to some, to folks who have been displaced from their homes because they can't afford to pay such ridiculous high rents, and folks who go without food because they have to pay these high rents and can't afford much food.
We in our city of East Boston do not have a shelter that is inclusive to all those in need of a warm and safe space to sleep, particularly when the weather is bad in the very cold and wet winter season. For our most vulnerable neighbors to receive these very needed services they have to cross through the tunnel to get them because there is nothing available to them here in their own city of East Boston, so folks here in Eastie are left to freeze and suffer. This is totally inhumane!
Currently we are in the process of finalizing the forming of our executive team, and soon we will start to form our board of directors. Our goal is to become a 501c3, have our own structure stationed here in our Eastie, have a paid staff so that this is a long lasting and sustainable organization. We are constantly seeking folks who are able and willing to help us achieve these goals so that we can continue to help our most vulnerable population, which is not getting smaller; and the situation will not just disappear, but instead it will get much worse with this massive housing development that is invading our neighborhood, and its high rents that are stressing and forcing out our poor and working class. This is a real crisis and we, as advocates and leaders, need not forget that we need to do something to address this dire urgency in our community. I cannot thank enough all the donors and volunteers for all of the support given to my East Boston Community Soup Kitchen. Thank you, everyone, for your support!! 💜🌞