Scores walk the walk for My Brother’s Table

This article was published 11 months ago.

Members of Pickering Middle School's Leadership Group and National Honor Society, from left, Mariella Rivera, Lily Lyman and Julia Barker led the Walk to End Hunger in Swampscott on Sunday. (Libby O'Neill)

LYNN — A crowd of approximately 100 volunteers raised over $42,000 to feed Lynn’s hungry Sunday afternoon at My Brother’s Table’s 41st Walk to Nourish our Neighbors.

The volunteers, starting outside Town Hall in Swampscott, led by Pickering Middle School students, took part in a three-mile trek along Lynn Shore Drive, into Lynn, and back around. While the walk commemorated the food distribution center’s 40th anniversary, My Brother’s Table Executive Director Dianne Kuzia Hills said that in the last two years, the organization nearly matched the meals that it served in its previous 38 years.

“We also are celebrating 6 million served meals. Prior to the pandemic, we had served 2.9 million meals, and since the pandemic, we’ve served 3.1 million meals, so we’ve been kind of busy,” she said.

The pandemic, and the economic impacts that followed it, Kuzia Hills said, brought a change in the regulars at My Brothers Table. She said that amid rising consumer prices and relatively stagnant wages, the organization helps middle, and lower-middle class workers make ends meet.

“For the local folks who live in Lynn, the cost of living has gotten so high, between the prices of food, and rents have gone up around 17 percent. People’s incomes have not just kept pace with the cost of living. We offer people something that kind of helps buffer their budget,” Kuzia Hills said. “Some people come every day, there are other folks who only come at the end of the month, when they’re kind of running low, and there are other people who come a couple times a week.”

The majority of those participating in the walk appeared to be well under 30 years of age. With Pickering kids in the front, and a long line of approximately 25 Lynn Tech students behind them, and a herd of Swampscott High School students in attendance as well, Kuzia Hills said that a lot of young people can either relate to the struggles associated with food insecurity, or can empathize with those in need of a meal.

“A lot of those young people might come from families who struggle as well, but they really understand how important a table is to the community,” Kuzia Hills said. “Especially among young people, I think there’s a real empathy and understanding that hunger does persist, and it is right here. It’s not necessarily something that’s overseas, but it’s here on the North Shore, and they want to do something about it.”

Kuzia Hills said at 3 p.m. that the $42,000 raised within the event’s first hour will fund approximately 20,000 meals to those in need. My Brother’s Table President of the Board of Directors Marissa Walsh joined the organization as a volunteer during the height of the pandemic. She said that the organization’s emphasis on service and community was what kept her involved.

“I just loved serving meals in the dining room, and the community that forms both with the people that you’re serving with and the guests,” Walsh said. “It’s been hard for our guests. They continue to be the population that has been most impacted by this time, and we don’t see any sign of that letting up anytime soon. We’re just doing what we can.”

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