Women's Lunch Place
Women’s Lunch Place is a safe, welcoming day shelter community, providing nutritious food and individualized services for women who are experiencing homelessness or poverty. We meet our guests where they are and treat them with dignity and respect.
COVID-19 has forced us to temporarily shift to take-out meals. We are continuing to maintain all three of our core service areas – healthy meals, direct care and advocacy. Each day we are providing a nutritious breakfast and lunch with extra snacks to sustain our guests. Toiletries, underwear and basic necessities are available. Our advocates are checking in with elderly and shut in guests and delivering pantry baskets of food and supplies.
Our guests are adult women of all ages, ethnicities, and life experiences from the Greater Boston area including Cambridge, Somerville, Lynn, Chelsea, Revere, and Quincy. Ninety percent of guests are single unaccompanied women, and we welcome every person who identifies as a woman, without judgment, questions, or requirements to receive any services. We serve a significant number of transgender guests, many of whom are unsafe in co-ed facilities and statistically much more likely to be physically or sexually assaulted on the streets. Approximately 50% of guests do not have housing while others live in transitional or low-income housing. Thirty-nine percent of guests are 60 years and over and most live alone on a fixed income. Those without homes stay in overnight shelters, though some choose the streets to avoid the overcrowded, loud and unsafe shelters where they are not treated with respect. Women come for help in emergencies, and while some recover and move forward within a short period, many guests struggle with chronic health problems, addiction, and recurring homelessness for years. Women have serious physical, mental and emotional problems that are exacerbated by poverty and homelessness. 66% have disabilities, 58% have a history of depression or anxiety, and 36% suffer from PTSD. As these numbers are self-reported, we know the actual percentages are likely higher. The unemployment rates for the general population of working age individuals age 21 to 64 is about 5.4%.
The goals of the WLP are to provide daily hunger relief, enhance the overall health and nutrition of guests, provide a safe dining environment, and support every woman to find the resources and determination to overcome systemic challenges. These are accomplished with meals shared in a caring community that restores each woman’s sense of dignity and hope. Our holistic approach – much more than hunger relief – has been and continues to be the most effective and successful in fostering meaningful, sustainable life changes. The meals program, direct care services and interventions mirror the public health model as they give women the opportunity to improve their lives while accessing healthy nutrition, increasing information about health, mental health and substance abuse treatment, participating in supportive services and increasing income. Our programming models the five-tier framework starting with the lowest level of intervention allowing a positive impact for every woman -- healthy nutrition and safe environment.
For nearly 35 years, Women’s Lunch Place has been a respected and trusted provider of high-quality services. WLP enjoys a platinum rating with Guidestar, the highest level of recognition offered. From Guidestar website: “Demonstrates that you are an organization that is focused on measuring your progress and results”. Successful partnerships with the Greater Boston Food Bank, Lovin' Spoonfuls, and new partners Northeastern University, area restaurants and food rescue groups resulted in over $151,853 in donated food. These donations substantially defrayed the costs associated with the increased demand for meals. WLP enjoys a balanced funding stream that consists of corporate and foundation funders, galas, annual appeal campaigns, and external events.
Excellence in Management and Operations
Staff is diverse in language, ethnicity, culture, age, skills, knowledge and lived experiences, all of which are vital and necessary. We work as a team focused on seizing opportunities to advance the lives of women through direct care service, advocacy, program administration, fundraising, and management efforts. Four staff are bilingual in Spanish, and 42% of staff are women of color. WLP’s 18-member Board of Directors oversees the finances and long-term sustainability of the organization. Fundraising and donor stewardship requires the commitment and participation of the full BOD, Executive Director and Development team. Together, they focus on increasing funding in a competitive environment. We are a GuideStar Platinum member. Annually, over 400 committed and well-trained volunteers regularly donate time to help in the shelter and administrative offices. We could not offer all the programs or services without the assistance of these volunteers. We also have over 120 volunteer groups from corporations, schools, and community-based organizations who help in the kitchen and on special projects. In FY 2018, volunteers logged in 33,536 hours, the equivalent of 16 full-time staff. We regularly ask for feedback from volunteers and staff and formally survey guests to evaluate programs and services. The guest evaluation was conducted in August 2018 and was available in four languages including Haitian Creole, online and in hard copy. WLP’s evaluation committee is comprised of senior staff, board members, community volunteers, with input from women who choose WLP services, as well as a pro bono consultant who advises us on how to capture community trends and qualitative and quantitative information. This includes demographics, needs, satisfaction with WLP services with narrative feedback, how and why women use services and program utilization and effectiveness. This feedback is critical for program development and design and to ensure we are providing the right opportunities for the...