Are you hungry? Food available to Watertown, Massachusetts residents
I have compiled this document May 26, 2012 and will attempt to keep it updated. My latest update is September 4, 2012. I will make a link so that this page can be easily found, or place this information on another site and link to it. There are more resources than are listed here. As I verify them, I will add them.
I have added my own commentary and am trying to be as helpful and informative as I can.
As of this date, I have not yet compiled a list of food resources for children. This will come.
Please do not go hungry. Folks at these places are very kind and understanding. Never let anyone tell you that you are less of a person for being low income, elderly, or disabled. In life, there are times that you give and times that you receive. If you have the opportunity to assist someone in need, you are blessed.
Note: Watertown offers senior services to folks 60 and over. Federal programs consider a person a senior at 65.
From the Watertown town website, senior section:
The Massachusetts Food Stamp Program, now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been streamlined for seniors. Even if you’ve never applied for assistance, own your home and car, or have been ineligible in the past, here are some reasons to consider applying for SNAP:
· During these difficult economic times, even a modest monthly SNAP benefit can help to offset some of your household expenses.
· Using SNAP benefits is completely confidential. SNAP recipients use a card which works just like a debit card.
· The application for seniors is shorter (only two pages) and less verifications are required.
· If you spend more than $35 per month on medical expenses including medications and doctor’s visits, you may qualify for a $90 standard deduction. This deduction could result in a higher monthly SNAP benefit.
To apply, please call toll free: 1-866-950-FOOD (3663) Once you have applied, you will find out in 30 days whether you are eligible for SNAP.
Congregate Lunch Program
Springwell administers the federally funded Congregate Lunch Program. A $1.75 donation is requested.
Call 617-923-2769 one day in advance between 9:00 am and 10:30 am, Monday – Friday to reserve.
Call by 12:30 pm on Thursday for a weekend reservation.
Location: Woodland Towers
55 Waverley Ave., community room, wheelchair accessible with wheelchair accessible bathroom in the community room. Some people like to play bingo afterward on certain days.
Monday – Friday at 11:30 am
Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 pm
Any senior can participate in this program, as well as anyone unable to prepare meals for themselves and can get a note from a dietician, doctor, nurse, etc. If you are unable to get to the meal site, you will also need a note stating this if you need Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels
This is a federally funded program administered by Springwell for homebound elders and hospital discharges who find it difficult to prepare meals. A hot meal is delivered Monday through Friday. Frozen meals for weekends, and accommodations for special diet requirements are available. A $1.75 donation is requested. Please call (617) 972-4100 for more information.
Food pantries in Watertown, Massachusetts:
Watertown Food Pantry
I have shown up on the early side here. There are chairs available to sit in while you wait. When you get there, go to the table and take a little card with a number. Hang onto this little card. When your number is called, give the number to the guy (he’s very, very nice and introduces himself by name but I forget what his name is) and he will ask you some questions. Then you go sit down and wait till your number is called again. Meanwhile, you can collect two food items from a cart off to the right, and unlimited items from a long table on the left. You never know what you will find here. Behind the registration table there always seem to be bags of legumes available, just ask. The volunteers will bring out a shopping basket with bags of food. Toilet paper and Ivory soap is included if you need it. I have been to this food pantry many times and was never told to “hurry up” the way I have been at other food pantries.
The Council on Aging administers the Watertown Food Pantry, which provides food assistance to any resident in need. The Pantry is located at:
St. John’s Church
80 Mt. Auburn St.
Watertown, MA 02472
Tuesdays, 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Thursdays, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
A parking lot is available. Easiest way to enter (which I believe is accessible and there are no stairs between the pantry and the parking lot) is via the corner of the parking lot, which leads to a small door. On your first visit, bring identification including proof of address (rent or utility receipt.) A five-day supply of food is available each month, as well as information about other food pantries in the area. For more information or to make a donation, call (617) 972-6429. After your first visit, no ID is necessary, just state your name and place of residence. They will give you a sheet with resources and contact numbers, but the sheet I received hadn’t been updated in a while, and some numbers no longer functioned.
St. Vincent de Paul’s Food Pantry – Watertown residents can access this food pantry twice a month
St. Patrick’s Church
26R Chestnut St.
Watertown MA, 02472
Ph: (617) 926-7121
St. Paul’s Church is the big Catholic church on the Newton side of Main Street a few bus stops from the square, the “Chestnut Street” stop on the 70 line. The pantry is in the rectory further down the side street on the left. A parking lot is available. Look for a sign for the entrance. This entrance is not wheelchair accessible, but I’m sure the building has other entrances that are accessible.
Until they open, there is only a small space where visitors can wait, with no chairs to sit. This waiting space is very small, and I imagine that in winter, people have to stand outside in the cold. If you arrive on the dot of 10 you can go in right away and have access to the best selection. They give you a basket, which you take around the room with you and fill with what’s on the shelves. There are instructions telling you how many of each item you can take. There is a wide variety and you never know what will show up. I have been allowed one item out of the refrigerator and one out of the freezer. Once, I was able to get fresh ripe bananas and oranges. “Dented and slightly out of date” canned food is available and you are free to take as much of these cans as you’d like. It is not difficult to find food labeled “organic.” Non-food items such as toiletries are available, and you are allowed one of these items per visit. I should also add that this food pantry doesn’t seem to be need-based, because all visitors, regardless of family size, are allowed the same amount. I think this is one reason why it can seem rather competitive there, and folks often take more than is allowed. When you are done, bring the filled basket to the desk. The volunteers will go over what you’ve chosen and make sure you haven’t taken more than is allowed. When they’ve gone through my stuff, they always inform me of more food that is available there if I need it.
On first visit you need to provide proof of Watertown residency and proof of income. When you come in the future, you do not need a photo ID. You just tell them your name and verify your address.
Food Pantries in Cambridge that Watertown residents can use:
Here is a link to services in Cambridge. Many are not available to folks that do not live in Cambridge. Please call to verify as this list is dated 12/2/10; http://www.cambridgema.gov/CityOfCambridge_Content/documents/MealsPantries.pdf
CAMBRIDGEPORT BAPTIST CHURCH -THE HARVEST
459 Putnam Ave. (617) 576-6779; firstname.lastname@example.org Hours: First and Third Saturdays of each month 9:15 – 11:30 a.m. Clothes Closet and children’s Bible Breakfast Club in addition to Food Pantry. Visits are not limited to once a month. Please bring photo I.D. on your first visit.
This is a very well-organized food pantry and clothes closet staffed by regular volunteers and volunteers who come in from charitable organizations. The person who runs this pantry told me that once a Starbucks store closed for the morning and the employees came to the church to work at the pantry instead.
While you wait, you can help yourself to hot coffee. They keep replenishing the supply. It did not run out the whole time I was there. I did not see decaf coffee or tea. The day I was there, they had a big cake and gave out pieces of that as well.
The church is located at the intersection of Putnam and Magazine. Expect to spend a good two hours there. There is an incredible feeling of camaraderie in the room. There is quite a wait, so bring a book or knitting or something to do. Even before doors open, 40 to 80 people will already be there. Find the person at the desk in the back of the room, and take a number or get your name on the list. The first time you come, you will fill out a form. I was not asked for any paperwork or identification. Then expect a long wait. The guy will make some announcements. Another person will give these same announcements in Haitian Creole. Then wait some more. When your name or number is called, you will pair up with a volunteer who will walk you downstairs. I do not know if this downstairs room is accessible, but I’m sure there are ways around it if you can’t do the stairs. The volunteer will help you get whatever food you need. You can take an item or choose not to take it. I received a generous amount of fresh apples, carrots, and potatoes. The canned goods, rice, and pasta, etc are standard pantry items. If they don’t give out all the perishables, you might be able to get extra if you are still there when they close. The clothes closet is in an adjacent room. Ask if you want to access it. Clothes are 25 cents each, coats are a dollar.
MARGARET FULLER NEIGHBORHOOD HOUSE FOOD PANTRY –near Central Square. Cherry Street is off Main Street. The sidewalks on these side streets are poorly maintained and not wheelchair accessible. When you arrive at Margaret Fuller House, go to the left of the building, then go in the back. The entrance is not wheelchair accessible. I imagine that they would gladly be very helpful if you cannot use this entryway, and bring the food out to you. I saw signs in Haitian Creole, and I assume that if you prefer assistance in this language rather than English, someone will be able to assist you.
When you arrive, take a number from the desk. The volunteers at the desk seem very friendly and helpful. This is a busy place. When you go into the inner area, your food will be waiting for you on a counter. There are chairs available to sit, but the room is small and crowded, and lines go out the door. They will give you the amount relative to your family size. You do not choose any of the food, but what you don’t want, just leave on the counter. There are large boxes available to put your food in so that you can bring it home, but I imagine that these could run out if you arrive late. Best to bring your own bags. They give you an abundance of canned legumes and other canned food. The time I went, they were generous with the frozen meat, but it is very poor quality ground turkey. I went once, on a Saturday.
Here’s the address:
71 Cherry St. (617) 547-4680 They answer their phone.
Hours: Wednesdays 5:00-7:00 p.m.. Thursdays 1pm – 4pm. Fridays 5pm-7pm. Saturdays 9:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.
Serves residents of Middlesex County. First-time visitors need to bring:
- Valid photo ID
- Social Security Card
- Proof of residence (such as a utility bill)
- Proof of income (proof of assistance from DPA, MassHealth, Section 8, WIC, etc. is acceptable)
- Proof of family size (birth certificates/ss cards for children, letter from social worker, clergy, etc.)
I was given an ID card with a number on it to keep, and told that I can visit twice in a calendar month.
MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE BAPTIST CHURCH – Project Manna – not verified. Left message Friday 6/1. I do not know if this pantry is still in operation. Inman Square
146 Hampshire St. 617-868-4853
Hours: Usually Fourth Saturday of the month opening at 8:00 a.m. Earliness is encouraged.
HELPING HAND PANTRY – If you call here you will get a recording with information. I left a message and asked if this food pantry was available to Watertown residents, waiting for a reply. Left 2nd mssg 6/1
Here’s where to find it:
362 Rindge Ave. Fresh Pond Apartments. Google maps lists these apartments at 364 Rindge Ave, not 362, so perhaps this is a side entrance. Google maps also says this is a six-minute walk from Alewife Station. From Alewife Access Road, turn L on Cambridgepark Drive. Cambridgepark Drive is divided by a grassy or concrete area between lanes. I do not know if it is possible to cross over, as there may be some kind of divider. You have to cross Alewife Brook Parkway according to the map, but I don’t know if it’s in fact possible to cross over or if there is a pedestrian or stop light. The map suggests turning right off of Cambridgepark before crossing the Parkway, and to cross at the intersection of with Rindge. A good landmark to look for is a small pond. These apartments are right next to this pond. An alternate route, perhaps wiser, is to take the 83 bus out of Central, and get off at Rindge Ave @ Russell Field, but this bus runs only once every half hour, slightly more often at rush hour. Note that in the recorded message, the street name sounds like “Wrench,” but it is in fact “Rindge.” (There is no Wrench Ave listed in Cambridge.) 617-876-4381; email@example.com
Hours: Tuesday 4:00-6:00 p.m.; Thursday 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.; Saturday 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Please bring picture I.D. and bags if you have them. Income must fall within USDA guidelines. Once a month only
ST. PAUL R.C. CHURCH -DOLLAR-A-BAG
No papers needed – they say they are a “small food pantry” and they also said that “anyone who is alive who walks in there with bags can get up to two bags of food, a dollar for each bag “(see below). It is run by the church, and most likely they rely heavily on donations. This may mean that an occasional surprise donation of something really yummy might show up. I have yet to visit this place.
Here’s the address:
29 Mt. Auburn St. (617) 491-8400 – very close to Harvard Square
Hours: Saturday 11:00 a.m.- 11:30 p.m.
Anyone may buy two bags of groceries for $1.00 each: one of vegetables, fruits, and assorted items & one of bread. Limit is two bags per visit; there is not a monthly limit on visits. Bring two bags.
I visited this food pantry Saturday September 1, 2012.
This pantry is open to everyone no matter where you live. There is no income requirement and you can be homeless and you can be any age and you can be a veteran or not a veteran and any race or religion or gender or nationality or age. I believe they want one person per household to pick up the groceries. So, you know, common sense. And they probably want an adult to show up. This is the only food pantry I’ve been to in the area that charges money, that is, a dollar per bag. You bring your own bag. They do have bags but bringing your own is encouraged (and environmentally a good idea, too!). The limit is two bags per household. You can come every week. They will give you one bag of bread-type stuff and one bag of “other” type stuff including fresh veggies and even fresh cooked meat.
This food pantry is located at St. Paul’s Church on Mount Auburn Street in the heart of Harvard Square. The pantry happens every Saturday at 11 until 11:30, but I found their doors open earlier and it’s a good idea to be there by 11 the latest because I believe it’s all over by 11:30. The pantry is at number 29. You sort of go through a back door right off the street. I found this door open. There were a bunch of stairs. I’ll bet there’s a wheelchair entrance somewhere, but not at 29 Mount Auburn Street. Now 29 Mount Auburn Street is not on the #71 route. This is the area of Mount Auburn Street past where the bus route ends, past the square.
As soon as you get into the room, find where the “numbers” are given out. These are little tickets. The “numbers” are the last two digits on your ticket. Listen carefully. A guy (or someone) will announce your number. When I was there on Saturday, the guy announcing numbers did so loudly and clearly. While waiting for your number to be announced, go sit down with your bags. You’ll see where to sit. A bunch of other folks will be sitting in seats. Relax.
When you hear your number, go up to this guy and give him your ticket. He will tell you where to go and how to proceed.
Now once you get into the food distribution area, there’s sort of a raised platform area where you’ll see tables where food is laid out. What they want you to do is to go around the table and pick up the food that’s there and put it in the bag that you brought. The problem is here that if you are in a wheelchair (and have managed to get into the church via a wheelchair entrance…I assume, like I said, that there is one, but then again you can never assume) there is this step in the middle here, so I’m wondering about accessibility. Of course there are a lot of volunteers at this pantry who are more than willing to help someone…just ask, and ask any questions that you have about allergies, etc. They have all kinds of breads donated from bakeries all over, including Whole Foods.
The day I was there, there was not too much food. They were not charging money at all. They said their truck had not arrived and that this was highly unusual. But I was totally impressed with this whole chicken they were giving everyone. This was a hot, just-out-of-the oven chicken, fully wrapped, like those kind you can pick up ready-to-eat at the supermarket, the kind that food stamps sometimes pay for and sometimes don’t. I wish I’d asked if the church folks themselves cooked these chickens. They were very small chickens but maybe enough to feed a good meal to four people at least, just a guess. And tasty, too.
There is an inner pantry area of donated food. Here is my suggestion for this pantry area. It’s all staples. If I recall correctly, you get two selections from in here. You do not get to look around. Go in there with something in mind. Have it written down. Have a third and fourth choice. So have your list of four items. First choice, second choice, third choice, fourth choice. They don’t want you to dawdle. Think ahead and think of what you need most.
This is a small operation, but the pantry has been around a while, and will be around for a while to come. Thank you, St. Paul’s, for feeding hungry people.
WESTERN AVENUE BAPTIST CHURCH – not verified, I do not know if this pantry is still in operation.
299 Western Ave. (617) 661-0433 Left message 6/1.
Hours: Second Wednesday of each month 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Food pantries in Waltham, MA that Watertown Residents can access
Sacred Heart Church Food Pantry/Waltham (http://sacredheart311.com/)
311 River Street, Waltham, MA 02453
781-899-0469 Thurs 4-5
You will need a photo ID and a bill as proof of residency. The listed addresses must match. Line up on Clark St. and wait to be let in. I have not been to this food pantry yet. From an e-mail: The requirements for eligibility are anyone needing food. You decide the rest. We have people with full time jobs that cant make ends meet to senior citizens who have to choose between eating and buying medicine to people with kids who just need help. The only requirement is a valid form of identification. We ensure that there are not two people from the same address taking food.
Hours for distribution are Thursdays from 4-5 PM. the first 100 people get a bag consisting of 10 items (when available). Sometimes peanut butter is given out so if there are food alllergies, please let the people know. We get donations of bread and other things that are given as well.
firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Larry.
Salvation Army/Waltham Meals (http://www.use.salvationarmy.org/__80256E7000504C60.NSF/CE952DEA4507EE7780256CF4005D2254/05C532746CC09D6C80256E99001521E7?OpenDocument)
Opened Monday – Friday 10-1.
Every month we service Waltham area residents a 5-day supply of food. We service approximately 275 cases (500 persons) a month. Clients are asked to use our pantry only one time a month unless there is an emergency.
33 Myrtle Street, Waltham, MA 02453 bring photo ID, proof of income and other family members, lease, rent receipt.
THE FOOD PANTRY AND SOUP KITCHEN – operated by the Immanuel United Methodist Church at 545 Moody St. is open Wednesday 9 to 11 a.m. Food donations accepted at the church entrance at the corner of Moody and Cherry streets from 2 to 6 p.m. Operated from the Methodist Church, 545 Moody St. under the direction of Dick Rogers of Middlesex Human Services. Rogers may be reached at
781-883-2050. Apparently no papers are required. This is a food pantry operated by one person, according to the person with whom I spoke. The pantry relies on donated food, probably a good sign since you will not be limited to “commodity” foods.
Bristol Lodge, a shelter, operates their soup kitchen at this church. Here’s the info on Bristol Lodge:
MHSA/Bristol Lodge Meals (http://www.mhsainc.org/soup.htm)
545 Moody Street, Waltham, MA 02453
781-899-2099, I have not tried this number.
The Red Cross Food Pantry in Waltham, also called Collins Family Food Pantry is no longer in operation. However, the Red Cross pantry in Boston on Mass Ave is in operation.
The Boston food pantry (Red Cross) provides a 3-day emergency supply of food once a month to approximately 4,500 low-income clients per month, making it the largest emergency food pantry in the city of Boston.
The pantry is open for clients on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9:00 to 12:00 and requires verification of low-income status to eligible for assistance. The income guidelines are the same as the other pantries
Family of one $19,240
Family of two $25,900
Family of three $32,560
Family of four $39,220
Add $6,660 for each additional family member.
Bring a photo ID for yourself and ID’s for all other family members such as a medical card.
It is located at the address below.
The American Red Cross Food Program
1033 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, MA 02118
This food pantry is locate across from the Welfare office. The entrance is on Proctor Street.
Further options are available to seniors. Call the Watertown Council on Aging, 617-972-6490, 31 Marshall Street, for more information.
Centre Street Food Pantry
Trinity Church 11 Homer St Newton Center, MA 02459
every Tuesday 4PM – 7PM
1st Saturday of each month 11AM – 2PM
- The Centre Street Food Pantry is a source of emergency supply of food. We stock canned goods, juices, toiletries and have fresh items when available to us.
- Shoppers are able to choose from our shelves the items they can use for their household, within some generous limits.
- We are located on the lower level of Trinity Church in Newton Center at 11 Homer Street.
- You can get to us by mass transit:
- The #52 MBTA bus stops nearby.
- We are a few blocks from the Newton Center T stop. (Green line “D”)
- We are open:
- every Tuesday from 4PM to 7PM, and
- the first Saturday of each month from 11AM to 2PM.
- Residents of Newton and surrounding communities are welcome to shop once per month.
- We do ask that shoppers fill out this form and bring it with them on their first visit.
It should be signed by a person who can attest to their need. (ex. town hall official, clergy, social worker)
Can’t get to the grocery store?
Delivery of Kosher Groceries
J.F. & C.S. Family Table (Jewish Family Services)
They will deliver Kosher groceries to you once a month, and also offer many other services
1430 Main Street, Waltham, MA 02451
Contact: Margie Nessen, family food coordinator
The Watertown Senior Shuttle provides transportation for shopping to Watertown seniors 60 years of age and older. The bus makes trips over specified routes throughout Watertown. The bus goes to the Stop & Shop on Tuesdays and to the Super Stop & Shop on Pleasant Street on Fridays. We request a small donation.
I believe this van is also available to all residents of senior housing, and also disabled individuals in the community. Ask.
My note: The shopping bus frequently breaks down, or is canceled. It is almost always canceled when it snows. Often, they cancel because they can’t find a driver. I would not suggest relying solely on this van. Also, the ride itself if very bumpy and uncomfortable. Expect to sit in close proximity to others. Also, expect others to peer into your grocery bag and make nosy comments. The driver is very, very helpful.
Note: the Stop & Shop on Watertown Street has a “dented can” section in the back of the store near the meat section. I’m guessing that other supermarkets have such sections as well. You never know what you will find there for dirt cheap. When you get to the cash register, make sure the cashier charges you the correct discounted amount.
Project Bread FoodSource Hotline
Call the Hotline at (800) 645-8333 or go to their website: gettingfoodstamps.org for information about free or low cost food resources, and to receive an application for the Food Stamp program mentioned previously. I haven’t called this number and I do not know if they keep their information up to date.
Soup Kitchens in Cambridge
The following is the most comprehensive list I could find, but I suspect that it may be out of date. I have added to the list whatever information I could find about each program. I have not been able to find recently updated listings anywhere.
Again, here is an additional link to services in Cambridge. Please call to verify as this list is dated 12/2/10; http://www.cambridgema.gov/CityOfCambridge_Content/documents/MealsPantries.pdf
Massachusetts Avenue Baptist Church, served at 146 Hampshire St. 6:00 p.m., Monday and Friday evenings. I suspect this program no longer exists. The link provided on the list did not work, and I heard nothing about this on the church’s recorded outgoing message.
Faith Kitchen This link works.
Served at Faith Lutheran Church, 311 Broadway; Second and last Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m. The above link works and I am certain that this soup kitchen is in operation. You can check out the menus on this site as well. Here’s the URL: http://faithkitchen.org/ very informative site.
Served at First Parish U.U. Church, 3 Church St., Cambridge, Harvard Square. Tuesday 5:30-7:00 Here’s the info I got off the church’s site. I know that this kitchen is in operation because it has been mentioned at my own church in Watertown.
The mission of the Tuesday Meals Program is to offer warm hospitality and an evening meal in a safe, dignified environment to anyone in need of nourishment.
We invite any and all with a heart for service to join us in this work.
To schedule a date to volunteer with us at our evening dinner service, simply click the button below and follow the directions:
On your first night of volunteering, please arrive at the church by 5:00 p.m. for an orientation to the program and its policies.
If you have any questions or would like more information about the Tuesday Meals Program, our online scheduling system, or about daytime volunteer opportunities, please contact our volunteer coordinator, Thomas Hathaway, at email@example.com.
Salvation Army This link works. I am certain that this program is in operation.
Wednesday night community dinner. Served at 402 Mass Ave., 5:00 p.m. Near Central, walk down Mass Ave toward Kendall and I believe it is on the right. Anyone in need of a warm, nutritious meal is welcome.
Lunches are served weekdays at 12:30 PM. Weekend lunches are served shortly after the drop-in center opens at 11:30 AM on Saturdays, and at 1:30 PM on Sundays.
Wednesday nights there is a community dinner at the Salvation Army at 5pm.
Good Food/Good Friends Women’s Meal Program
Served Thursday nights 5:45 – 7 pm. at the Lounge, St. James Episcopal Church, 1991 Massachusetts Ave.
All women are welcome, 15 guest limit.
Harvard Square Churches Meal Program I am reasonably certain this program still exists.
Served at Christ Church Episcopal, 0 Garden Street; Thursday 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Union Baptist Church, 874 Main St., Served Thursday 5:00 p.m.
Loaves & Fishes Meal Program I am reasonably certain that this program still exists.
Served at First Korean Church, 35 Magazine St. Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Bread & Jams Sunday Meal Program I am reasonably certain this program still exists.
Vegetarian community meal. May 1 – Oct 15: served 5:00 – 7:15 p.m. at the Cambridge Common near Harvard Sq.
Oct. 15 – Apr. 30: served 5:00 – 7:15 p.m. at St James’s Episcopal Church. Meals are handicapped accessible.
Clothing is also available, donated by the American Friends Service Committee.
Shelter Inc. This link works.
Drop-in center serves meals Monday – Friday to homeless women 18 and over. This is located at a shelter.