Last Tuesday afternoon At-Large City Councilor Michael Flaherty hosted a community cookout with help from the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen (EBCSK) that operates out of the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in East Boston.
For several years, the EBCSK has been conducting weekly food distribution operations and Councilor Flaherty has emerged as a staunch supporter of the soup kitchen’s efforts prior and during the pandemic.
Flaherty decided he wanted to do something special not only for those that benefit from the weekly soup kitchen but the team of volunteers that show up week after week to help distribute food to those who are food insecure.
“I had been down to the soup kitchen to volunteer a few times during the pandemic and had the opportunity to help prepare grocery bags for distribution,” said Flaherty. “Once things started to open up a bit I suggested doing something in July to give back to not only the clientele that the soup kitchen serves but also the volunteers. So we came up with this July Hot Dog Safari on the day the soup kitchen is distributing meals to residents. We just wanted to give everyone involved the opportunity to celebrate a slight return to normal, relax and enjoy the afternoon with a hot dog or two after this extremely difficult year.”
Manning the grill himself Flaherty cooked almost 400 hotdogs throughout the afternoon and the Councilor teamed up with Captain Kelley McCormick and the Community Officers from District A-7 to bring down the police department’s Ice Cream Truck so children and adults could enjoy ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
“It was great to get out in the neighborhood, to accentuate the work that Sandra Nijjar and her team at the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen have been doing throughout the pandemic, and bring some joy and levity to all those who could attend this afternoon,” said Flaherty. “I was lucky enough to volunteer with the Soup Kitchen and I am honored to continue to support them.”
The EBCSK distributes grocery bags full of kitchen staples and high quality, healthy food every Tuesday.
Founded by Nijjar and a team of dedicated volunteers EBCSK has fostered community through addressing food insecurity that was exacerbated by the pandemic.
“When I went there for the first time I was shocked to see just the sheer number of folks in the line,” said Flaherty. “So last week’s cookout was a chance to meet and engage not only with the folks that come to the pantry but also to celebrate the volunteers.”
Flaherty said he enjoyed the event so much he’d like to make the soup kitchen Hot Dog Safari an annual event in Eastie.
“Having Councilor Flaherty here to help out was a great experience,” said Nijjar. “Having the grill going with hot dogs, the ice cream, and the music brought smiles to the faces of our patrons today.”