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 As food scarcity continues to be a significant issue in town, Arlington EATS and the Arlington Food Pantry are combining forces to further expand hunger-relief efforts in Arlington and ensure long-term sustainability for both programs.

In 2016, current efforts addressed only 25 percent of the broader need, according to the Greater Boston Food Bank. To focus on this need, the two relief organizations have agreed to merge. Having planned the action for more than a year, leaders of both organizations say they aim to build on their positive working relationship and increase innovative programming.

In a news release, one of Arlington EATS' cofounders, Lauren Ledger, said: "We are passionate about making sure kids have enough to eat. Merging with the Food Pantry will allow us to more fully concentrate on that hard and gratifying work, while sharing the back-office duties with an organization that we respect immensely. We are incredibly excited to work with the Food Pantry to serve Arlington in new and innovative ways."

Financial efficiencies cited

Working under one administrative umbrella facilitates operational and financial efficiencies and enables each organization to strengthen its respective mission, the release said. The merger will help the organizations manage overhead associated with providing food resources to those who need it and spotlight food-scarcity issues in Arlington.

Andi Doane, food pantry executive director, said, "Both programs have grown tremendously in the past year, and so it is an ideal time to combine forces to ensure resources are being used to the fullest potential to feed our neighbors in need."

Each organization will retain its name and continue with its unique focus.

Arlington EATS will continue to work with schools to provide snacks, summer and vacation lunches, and supplemental food to students who qualify for federal free and reduced price lunches. The Arlington Food Pantry will continue its efforts to provide food resources to all Arlington residents in need through its weekly food distributions.

Each has traditions

The Arlington Food Pantry and Arlington EATS have community-building traditions that have brought together those struggling with food scarcity and those concerned with food justice. Both organizations will continue to rely on their donor and volunteer networks.

Arlington EATS will continue its hyperlocal volunteer model that allows residents of all ages to give of their time and money and to see an immediate impact on kids living in their neighborhoods.

For more than 20 years, the food pantry has addressed the food-scarcity needs of Arlington residents. Today, it provides food to 500 town residents each month, or about 25 percent of hunger needs here.

Since May 2014, Arlington EATS has focused on ensuring that the more than 650 local students who receive free and reduced price lunch on school days still have access to healthy meals when school is not in session. In the past year, Arlington EATS provided approximately 18,000 snacks and 20,000 meals to students and their families.

Recently, the pantry expanded its hours from operating a few times per month to every Wednesday at 117 Broadway from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m. It is also open on the last Saturday of every month at 21 Marathon St. from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

The pantry shares space with Food Link, a food-rescue group, at the Broadway location, near the Thompson School.

May 3, 2015: Arlington EATS: Feeding students when school is out

This news announcement was published Thursday, May 4, 2017.