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The next free NEAT community meal is slated for 5 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Arlington Community Center at Maple and Academy streets. While RSVPs are not required, they do help the chefs plan — so a quick email to eatwithneat at will help them know how much food to prepare. Regardless, all are welcome.

Neighbors Eating All Together (NEAT) hosted an estimated 180 people Dec. 9 at Thompson School for its monthly community dinner, a recent news release said. The meal was donated by Arlington’s Blue Ribbon Barbeque, 908 Mass. Ave., and included its signature pulled chicken, rice and beans, coleslaw and cornbread. NEAT’s longtime partner in community service, Food Link, provided salad, bread and desserts.

Nearly 200 people of diverse backgrounds dined Dec. 9 at the NEAT event.
“It really does take a village, and we are so grateful for the support we get from our community,” said newly elected NEAT Board President Jodi Auerbach, co-owner of Something Savory Catering and Events.

Members of the NEAT board said they were thrilled to welcome this month several Haitian and Venezuelan families who are new to Arlington, as this exemplifies the organization’s mission to connect the community at a table over a nourishing meal. They reported that as the cafeteria’s 120 seats filled and more folks arrived at the door, a volunteer sprang into action, moving the desserts to the coffee table and then re-setting that table for diners. It immediately became a kids' table, to the delight of NEAT’s team leader for the evening, Julie Lucey.

NEAT states that it is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to offering an inclusive and welcoming place in Arlington; it began serving free community meals in spring 2017. The success of the Dec. 9 event demonstrates the belief that bringing food and connection together is the recipe for a stronger community, the news release said. 

For more information, readers may check out the website or follow NEAT on Facebook and may send an email to eatwithneat at to RSVP to come to dinner — or to volunteer to help at one.

This news announcement -- based on text from Shannon Fitzgerald, communications and digital marketing coordinator with Food Link, who also supplied the photograph -- was published Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023. YourArlington layout volunteer Kim Haase prepared it for publication. It was updated Monday, Jan. 15, 2024, for time references.