My Brother’s Table (MBT), a remarkable soup kitchen in Lynn, began when two trailblazing individuals identified a need on the North Shore. In the fall of 1982, Father Harry Lawson of St. Joseph’s Parish in Lynn and Nancy Ryan of Catholic Charities in Peabody met at a seminar and discussed the desperation of many who were hungry and destitute in their area. Together, forming a bond and a dream, they came up with My Brother’s Table, serving their first meal in October of 1982. What began as a small soup kitchen, has evolved into something greater, beyond what the two co-founders could have ever imagined.
With the epidemic of hunger affecting not only Lynn but the whole country, My Brother’s Table has soldiered on, becoming the largest of its kind on the North Shore. 20% of those who live in Lynn fall under the poverty line, double the 10% Massachusetts’ total poverty level. 1 in 5 people who live in Lynn are food insecure, meaning that they are lacking the access or ability to nourish themselves with a healthy meal. Pre-COVID-19 pandemic, they were serving sit down meals in their large, dining room. Today, with this ever-changing world, things look a bit different.
My Brother’s Table’s success is evident when one looks at the astounding amount of people it has helped since it’s humble beginnings. In 2020 alone, MBT served over 793,850 free meals to men, women, and children in need. 4,635,648 hot free meals in total, have been served since its start. And all of this has been supported by private donors and businesses to ensure privacy of its guests.
But it’s not just the hot, free meals that make MBT such a standout organization. It’s the many other services they provide helping those who need it most - it’s pretty incredible! In addition to the meals provided at their location at 98 Willow Street, they also deliver meals to those who are critically ill and unable to come in themselves. Joe’s Meals, an 18-year old program, is a free weekly dinner shuttle, delivering 7 frozen dinner meals and other easy to reheat meals for those who are homebound and don’t meet the requirements for other programs. In addition, MBT also provides meals for those in respite at Lynn Recuperative Care Center, while recovering from illness, injury or surgery.
This altruistic charity will also deliver fresh hot meals to those held in the Lynn Police Department’s Lock-up, new Americans preparing for citizenship, and once a month at the Greater Lynn Senior Services’ Community Cafe at the Lynn Council on Aging. They have also collaborated with Juvenile Resource Institute’s (JRI) Children Friend and Family Service, delivering meals and healthy snacks to children struggling with mental health or other illnesses.
As we are all well aware, adapting to this new world we are in is crucial. And MBT has flourished in its continuance and transformation of providing much needed services to our community. Currently, they are not able to offer sit-down meals where people gathered and socialized, but they do offer meals to go. And what is wonderful about this offering, is that anyone is eligible. Anyone who is hungry and needs a meal does not need any proof of eligibility - they can just come in and grab a meal - or as many meals as they’d like (there is no limit!). The facility has employed a janitorial crew to deep clean each night, so it’s safe and ready to make and package meals in the morning. They also expanded their hours, now operating from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.
Feeling inspired? There is always the opportunity to volunteer - both virtually and in person. They also always welcome donations, both monetary and of gift cards or items they are in need.
My Brother’s Table has changed the way they serve our community, but the one thing that has not changed is their mission and drive to help those who are underserved, who are hungry, even those who just need to see a friendly face. If you are interested in learning more or how you can help, please visit their website or Facebook page.