The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) has awarded three East Boston community-based organizations that are working to address social determinants of health with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.
Eastie Farm, the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen (EBCSK) and the East Boston Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) were among 34 organizations citywide to share in $1.5 million in ARPA funding. The ARPA funds will support Eastie Farm, the EBCSK and NOAH’s general operation costs to offset losses from the pandemic and stabilize these critical organizations and resources. Each Eastie organization will receive a grant between $20,000 and $50,000from the ARPA funding that was approved by the Boston City Council in 2021.
“Many community-based organizations suffered financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, yet the need for their services grew during the past two years,” said Commissioner of Public Health and Executive Director of the BPHC Dr. Bisola Ojikutu. “BPHC is proud to support organizations that are meeting the urgent needs of their communities and advancing our shared mission to build a healthier Boston.”
BPHC awarded funding to community-based organizations working on a wide range of issues that impact Bostonians’ health and wellness, such as food access and security, and safe and affordable housing, and other social determinants of health. Social determinants of health influence access to resources and opportunities and impact people’s health.
Eastie Farm Founder and Director Kannan Thiruvengadam said the farm has worked without a break since the beginning of the pandemic to provide food relief to families in Eastie and elsewhere.
“We have also kept our operations going,” said Thiruvengadam. “COVID affected our operations and programming, as it did many other organizations, immensely. Everything from seedling sales to raised bed construction was stretched out from what could have been a few days, to several months, leading to increased expenses both in terms of supplies and staff time. This increase in cost was unfunded and created a hole in our budget. Some of the consequences are not easily measurable, such as staff burnout. Even so, this support from BPHC is a relief, and we appreciate it as it allows us to look forward and continue to bring benefits to our community.”
NOAH’s Executive Director Phil Giffee said this funding helps NOAH to continue to serve people still feeling the effects of the pandemic.
“It also helps us to assist with both personal or communal needs relevant to building the community back up from socio-economic, as well as climate related challenges,” said Giffee.
NOAH’s Director of Community Building Environment and Resilience Latifa Ziyad added that when she got word NOAH received the grant it was proof positive the BPHC is there to help.
“This is just the type of fluid, fast acting resource that lets us respond to challenges in real-time without a hiccup,” she said.
EBCSK Founder and Director Sandra Nijjar said Eastie Farm, NOAH and the soup kitchen are all doing incredibly noble work in the community and deserving of this award from BPHC.
“We at EBCSK have had the blessing to collaborate with both Eastie Farm and NOAH and support each other, particularly during this coronavirus crisis,” said Nijjar. “I, along with our EBCSK board members and leadership team, would like to congratulate and wish both of these two amazing organizations even more success in the future as we all move forward.”