Connecting the Waltham Community to Food

Published on September 20, 2021
The Healthy Waltham staff and volunteers
Healthy Waltham staff members Joe Previtera, left, Maria DiMaggio, center, and Myriam stand with all the volunteers at St. Mary’s Church.

Healthy Waltham began as a community coalition to help kids with healthy eating. When the pandemic started, the mission stayed the same – but the need changed.

“The food needs just exploded overnight, and we had to get more focused in that area.” Myriam Michel, Executive Director of Healthy Waltham, explained. “We didn’t know how, but we just did it. We did what needed to be done. If kids aren’t eating and if their parents aren’t eating, how are they supposed to succeed?”

Myriam and Maria DiMaggio, Operations Director, tapped into their community to find resources. Soon, they began operating a thriving pantry twice a month out of a church basement, serving 1,000 local families in need.

“That’s when we officially became a Greater Boston Food Bank partner agency.” Myriam explains, “It was amazing to have consistent access to high-quality food, and partners to help distribute it.”

Steven with FRESH/Brandeis collects food from Healthy Waltham staff member Joe Previtera.

In addition to the pantry, Healthy Waltham has been able to implement alternate models where they bring food out into neighborhoods in need with the help of the community. These partners include Brandeis University’s FRESH program for students facing food insecurity and Africano Waltham, which serves the growing Ugandan community in Waltham.

When asked about continuing these food services after the pandemic, Myriam explains “We’re still exploring what the future holds. The country is beginning to open back up, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t backed up with bills. COVID-19 exacerbated a lot of issues, and we have to care for our communities.” She continues, “But I’m confident.”

“We’ve learned so much over the past year, and we’ve done miraculous things thanks to the support of the Greater Boston Food Bank. Food is caring. Food is a leveler, a connector, and food has and will continue to strengthen our community.”

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