Educators Support Belmont Families And Children

Photo: The logo of the Belmont Education Association

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the Belmont Education Association announced the donation of $2,000 to a pair of organizations supporting families and children in need.

The donation was split evenly between ​The Belmont Food Pantry and ​Massachussetts Child​, a charitable corporation created by the Massachusetts Teachers Association to provide funds to local associations in order to help students in need.

“We recognize the impact that the pandemic has had on the Belmont community and we are happy to contribute what we can,” said John Sullivan, BEA president.

“We are all affected by the harsh reality of this virus,” he said. “We hope our donations can contribute to the well-being and safety of our students and families in the Belmont community.”

Belmont Food Pantry Reopens At Town Hall

Photo: The ribbon cutting.

The Belmont Food Pantry has a new home, one its founder hopes will remain for years to come.

On its first Saturday, Feb. 16, at its new location on the first floor of Town Hall, the pantry’s volunteers welcomed a large number of the 200 families which are served by the nonprofit which for more than a quarter century has been serving those Belmont residents in need.

The ceremonial cutting of a red ribbon (with some oversize scissors) “officially” opened the pantry’s location was a welcomed event for Patty Mihelich, who along with an ad hoc committee and a grant from Project Bread, founded the pantry which opened in the Waverley Square Fire Station in December 1992.

“It’s a great day that we now have a place that gives us the stability to serve [residents] ,” said Mihelich on Saturday.

The pantry began a frustrating journey in search for a long-term site after the fire station was sold in 2005, moving to a modular building behind Belmont High School than to the former Belmont Light Department headquarters across from Town Hall in 2009. The pantry returned to the high school site in 2012 before moving to its latest  location at Mount Hope Church on Lexington Street in 2016. 

Seeking a permenant location, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin and the Board of Selectmen (Chair Adam Dash help celebrate the opening) worked with Mihelich after seeing an opportunity at Town Hall when space became avaliable after the Retirement Board moved to larger space on Concord Avenue. With two rooms that were largely unused, the decision was made to allow the community asset to come to Town Hall.

Mihelich said the new location has the advantage of parking, public transportation and a familiar, central location – many using the pantry remember when the pantry was at the Light Department – that will help assist residents in obtaining the food and sundries they require to stay feed and healthy. 

“This means a lot to be [at Town Hall] and we hope that it will be a long stay,” she said.

The pantry monthly hours are:

  • 1st and 3rd Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
  • 2nd and 4th Tuesday: 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 
  • 4th Sunday: 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.


Students Effort Has Belmont Food Pantry On The Move; Next Stop, Town Hall

Photo: The Town Hall entry to what will become the home of the Belmont Food Pantry. 

After journeying from site and site over the years, the Belmont Food Pantry will be moving to Belmont Center as the quarter-century non-profit has found a new, and hopefully permanent home in Belmont’s Town Hall.

The pantry, which began in December 1992 in the former Waverley Fire Station, will occupy its new location on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, said Town Administrator Patrice Garvin at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

The space, a small office that once housed the town’s Retirement Board and an IT training room, is located on the ground floor of Town Hall. There is an exterior door on the Concord Avenue side that once was the entry to the Town Clerks Office before the building was renovated in 1999.

According to Laurie Graham, a pantry director who attended the selectmen’s meeting, said it was two Belmont High School student’s, Rebecca Salame and Olivia Bible, who both envisioned and began the process of ending the pantry’s unwanted wanderlust.

The pantry has been on the move since it left at the fire station in 2005 to Belmont High School. It would occupy the ground floor of the former Belmont Municipal Light Department building across from Town Hall beginning in 2009 and remained there for three years before heading back to the high school in 2012. Its final move was to Mt. Hope Christian Church on Lexington Street in 2016. 

Last year, Salame and Bible chose food injustice as their capstone project in Belmont High teacher Jamie Shea’s Global Leadership class, with a focus on the food pantry, which serves 200 residents on a regular basis.

“After speaking with several people involved in the pantry they realized that we were not short on volunteers, food or monetary donations but rather the biggest challenge was space,” said Graham. The students met with Selectman Adam Dash on finding a more permanent spot for the pantry.
“At the end of that meeting, the [Selectmen] … directed [Garvin] to see if she could find a space we could use. About a week later she told us there were two potential spaces; one at Town Hall as well as another spot in the Department of Public Works yard,” said Graham.
“[The pantry directors] looked at both and it was determined that the Town Hall site was the better, and really the only viable option. The location is good and it is a hugely important move to have the town really having more active participation in the Pantry,” she said.
“It is not as big as the space that we had at the High School, but then again nothing has been since then,” said Graham.

Second Town Gun Buy Back Event Result in Less Gun, More Food

Photo: (from left) Patty Mihelich of the Belmont Food Pantry receiving a check for nearly $2,500 from Amy Starzec and Belmont Police Chief Rich McLaughlin.

Belmont’s second annual Gun Buy Back resulted in making the community a bit safer and the Belmont Food Pantry a little richer.

Belmont Police Chief Richard J. McLaughlin reported that the

Held this past June at the town’s DPW yard, residents were able to discard in a safe way unwanted firearms and ammunition, said Belmont Police Chief Richard McLaughlin.

Working in partnership with the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office, Belmont Religious Council, individual Belmont houses of worship and our regional police partners Cambridge, Arlington, Watertown and Somerville, the Belmont Police collected a variety of firearms during the day-long event including rifles, shotguns, and pistols.

All firearms turned in at the Gun Buyback will be turned over to the Massachusetts State Police for destruction following the law. 

And $2,469.97 in leftover grocery gift cards and cash, which were purchased by individuals, local businesses and houses of worship and given in exchange for the firearms, was donated to the Belmont Food Pantry to help the 60 local families that require assistance in purchasing food each month.

If residents have questions regarding the Gun Buy Back Program or would like information on what to do with unwanted and unused firearms and ammunition, contact Belmont Police Lt. Kristin Daley at 617-993-2554 or via email 

Moving Day: Food Pantry Finds Temp Home on Pleasant Street [Video]

Photo: The move.

When the “Burbank Brownies” of Girl Scout Troop 69200 arrived at the Belmont Food Pantry behind Belmont High School on Saturday morning, July 30, Patty Mihelich beamed. 

The founder and manager of the pantry welcomed them to join nearly 50 residents in helping to transport the pantry’s entire contents – two rooms filled with food, appliances, miscellaneous material and even the six-foot high shelves – from the location next to the commuter rail tracks to one across from the Star Market parking lot on south Pleasant Street.

“I told you they would come,” said Mihelich, proud of the quick response of friends, long-time volunteers or just from residents who heard that the pantry needed a hand.

The move from its home for the past four years was necessitated by the school district’s need to find classroom space for the exploding student enrollment coming to Belmont High School.

And just five days earlier, Mihelich was still waiting for a place that could accept them on a temporary basis while a more permanent location at Mt. Hope Church on Lexington Street is being retro-fitted to accept the pantry which serves more than 200 families in Belmont.

“I was about to rent a ‘pod’ and throw everything inside,” said Mihelich about a movable storage unit. 

But just five days before the move was scheduled, Paul Tocci of Belmont Car Wash made a spare garage/repair space at 1010 Pleasant available to the organization. 

“He really came through as did so many people like the Board of Selectmen and these volunteers,” she said as she drove a U-Haul between the locations transporting the large shelving. 

For Debbie Eisenberg and her son, Chenery eighth grader Nate Fox, “it was nice to lend a hand. We are a small town, and this is what people do.” 

With the help of students such as Lilah Isenberg, Del Bonnin and Grace Kane (who learned they could lug large tubs of food while securing cereal boxes under their arms), the old location was stripped bare after 80 minutes after arriving at 8 a.m.

While there were a few false starts at Pleasant Street – the re-stacking of food and cans after some cross wires – the pantry officially was ready to resume helping families in need.

“And just think, we get to do this all over again in just a few weeks,” said Mihelich.

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Belmont’s Food Pantry On The Move; And It Needs Your Help July 30

Photo: The new logo.

Like a friend who calls in July and August, the Belmont Food Pantry wants to know:

“Can you help them move to their new home?”

The Belmont Food Pantry is on the move, and by the end of next week – if all goes to plan – the site which serves nearly 200 residents will be up and running at its new location near Waverley Square. 

After being forced to find a new place after the Belmont School Department was forced by skyrocketing enrollment to take back the two modular rooms behind Belmont High School, Mount Hope Church at 51 Lexington St. offered approximately 1,600 sq.-ft. in its basement for the food pantry’s relocation, said long-time manager Patricia Mihelich. 
The pantry’s new home has a ramp into the building, a new lift to the basement where the bathrooms are located.
But like any new home, you have to find a way to move the contents to the new place. According to Mihelich, moving day is Saturday, July 30th starting at 8 a.m
“As the saying goes ‘All Hands on Deck’ is needed for this day,” she said in an email to supporters.
In addition to residents with strong backs, Mihelich will need some handy persons with experience in construction.
“The preparation of the space will take some time, so we are also working on a temporary space to go to during that time.  I am working on the solution regarding this, and everything should be finalized by Monday,” she said.

Time Running Out To Find New Home For Belmont Food Pantry

Photo: A busy Belmont Food Pantry on Belmont Serves.

It’s nail-biting time for the Belmont Food Pantry.

With a little more than five weeks before the non-profit will be forced to move from its current home in a modular unit at the rear of Belmont High School, the pantry – which assists more than 200 residents with much-needed food staples and sundries – is scrambling to find a space to continue its charitable work.

“What we are asking we know that we need to come together as a community to provide this service to the people,” Laurie Graham, former Belmont School Committee chair, and a pantry director, told the Belmont Board of Selectmen on Monday, June 27.

“We’ve known since December and to solve this problem now is acuter with this short fuse,” said Chairman Mark Paolillo of the August 1 deadline.

The pantry will need to move as the school department is running short of classroom space due to rocketing enrollment levels at Belmont High and throughout the district.

But despite the best efforts of the town administration, houses of worship, non-profits and businesses, as of the last week in June, there simply isn’t a location of a similar size – about 1,600 sq.-ft. – to meet the pantry’s needs.

Currently, the pantry is open five times a month: in the mornings on the first and third Saturday of the month and on afternoons on the second and fourth Tuesday evening with an additional day on the last Sunday of the month at Plymouth Congregational Church on Pleasant Street.

Belmont residents can use the service twice a month to pick up canned goods, baking supplies, sundries and, during the summer, fresh vegetables from gardens run by volunteers.

While the Belmont community has been “very supportive” of the pantry financially and with food donations, “we need space,” said Graham.

David Kale, Belmont’s town administrator, said he had discussions with department heads on available space, but so far there isn’t any local site that could handle the pantry.

A recent walk through of the former Belmont Municipal Light Department headquarters adjacent to the Police Headquarters and across Concord Avenue from Town Hall, which three years ago was the pantry’s home, was deemed unavailable as the building has deteriorated over that time and would need substantial rehabilitation to bring up to code. 

There had been discussions of using two empty storefronts near the intersection of Belmont Street and Trapelo Road adjacent to Moozies that are owned by developer Chris Starr or parking a trailer in the Beth El Temple Center’s parking lot. But both some with significant restrictions such as lack of running water and electricity and a small footprint.

“But while saying that, we’d love to have anything on a temporary basis,” said Graham.

With nothing available at this time, the pantry is looking at stop gap measures to continue service, including sharing space with pantries in Watertown and Arlington, although the Watertown space is problematic since they hand out bags of food rather than allowing residents select what they need which is done in Belmont.

Graham said there had been discussions by the pantry’s board of directors of possibly allowing the pantry become part of town government similar to the way Watertown runs its food service.

“There are pros and cons to this [approach],” said Graham including giving up the pantry’s non-profit status. The pantry could find a commercial storefront and pay market rent although that would mean fewer supplies for residents. 

“But I think for us an issue is sustainability … and that means we need to have a place,” she noted. 

Saying the food pantry serves “a very important need,” Selectman Sami Baghdady said he has reached out to several large property owners if there is any available storefront in an accessible commercial location. 

“When I say ‘food pantry,’ everyone’s attention spikes, and there is a strong desire to help,” said Baghdady, saying he is now waiting for a call back to resolve the predicament, “sooner rather than later.” 

Comedian Jimmy Tingle in Belmont Saturday Using Humor To Support Good

Photo: Jimmy Tingle, in the flesh.

Humor for Humanity and A Path Appears in Belmont are pleased to announce an opportunity to both give and get and feel good about it as they host comedian/political pundit Jimmy Tingle in his show: “Jimmy Tingle for President/The Funniest Campaign in History” this Saturday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Belmont High School, 221 Concord Ave. 

Tickets are $30 and are available on, or

The New York Times describes Jimmy as; “ More than comic wit.. so cheerfully intelligent he makes his audience optimistic in the face of appalling reality. It takes a serious and well-intentioned man to make one laugh to such good effect.”

Funds raised will support The Belmont Food Pantry, Belmont METCO and the Bristol Lodge which represent the top three issues – hunger, homelessness and education/literacy – identified in the community surveys collected at the A Path Appears in Belmont events last year including the talk with New York Times journalist and Pulitzer Prize Winner Nicholas Kristof. 

When Kristof spoke last April at Belmont High, he shared his research proving when an individual gives to another, it makes them FEEL GOOD, Come enjoy the evening and know that a portion of the cost of your ticket will be going to each of the three organizations listed above. You will not only FEEL GOOD you will laugh like you haven’t laughed before.

Go to for more information and tickets.

Belmont Serves Brings Volunteers Out for A Day of Service

Photo: Everyone pitched in at Monday’s Belmont Serves.

Wearing gloves and carrying a clipboard, Mary Lewis was spending a beautiful Columbus Day morning getting dirty. 

As one of two coordinators at the Burbank Elementary School, Lewis had a long list of projects that needed to be done during the sixth annual Belmont Serves day of community service.

“We’ve been clearing a lot of brush from the back of the hill, picking weeds and planting pretty bulbs for the spring,” she said, as three friends from the Chenery Middle School – Anthony Casale, Zach Moss and Harry Brennan – prepare to load branches and leaves into yard waste bags. 

“We’ve done a lot, just this morning,” said Brennan. 

For more than 300 parents, children, teens and other residents who started and ended the day at St. Joseph Parish Hall, the Columbus Day holiday was not of laying around until noon, but an effort to give back to the community where they live. 

Sponsored by the Belmont Religious Council, Belmont Serves “is about providing just a little help to people or a project that needs our attention,” said Rev. Joseph Zarro of Plymouth Congregational Church, this year’s BRC vice president. 

The largest group event each year is retrieving grocery bags of food that residents left on their stoops the night before for pick-up on Monday. SUVs and cars toured specific neighborhoods around Belmont collecting the food stuffs and sundries, bringing them back to the Belmont Food Pantry located behind Belmont High School. 

By early afternoon, 1,700 bags of food was delivered to the Pantry, restocking the empty shelves – there are no food drives in the summer – which will last through the holidays in December.

“This is a tremendous response from the Belmont community to support and help their neighbors. I know that the recipients of the pantry appreciate and are most grateful to the Belmont residents,” said Patty Mihelich, the pantry manager.

She said at least 50 volunteers helping both outside and inside the building, sorting and stocking, “and everyone had a great time.”

Special thanks go to the following businesses who supplied the paper bags: Iggys, Belmont Cambridge and Waltham Star, Whole Foods Cambridge, Arlington and Cambridge Trader Joes.


Letter Carriers to Collect Food Donations for Belmont Food Pantry Saturday

Photo: Reilly Lubien and Patty Mihelich at the Belmont Food Pantry.

This past winter, Unity Avenue’s Reilly Lubien was worried that some fellow Belmont residents might “not have supplies; you know, they might be unhydrated.” 

So the Wellington Elementary kindergartener set out to collect money, first, from her parents and close relatives, then took to her mom’s Facebook page to announce her intent. Knowing that residents rely upon the Belmont Food Pantry for their weekly food, Reilly chose this vital town resource to take her collection in late March. The pantry’s director, Patty Mihelich, said the funds will be used to help the nearly 150 families who sign up each week for the basics. 

This Saturday, May 9, fellow Belmont residents can join Reilly to help keep the pantry’s shelves filled by leaving food donations by their mail box or at the front door to be collected by US Postal Service letter carriers and brought to the Food Pantry as part of the NALC Stamp Out Hunger National Food Drive — the largest one-day food drive in the nation.

“It is only second to Belmont Serves [in October] in terms of number of contributions that comes to the pantry,” said Mihelich.

The letter carriers remind everyone to place bags of donations by the mailbox/front door on Friday evening and it will be picked up on Saturday.