My Brother’s Table (MBT), the largest soup kitchen on Massachusetts’ North Shore, has served more than 5 million meals, and is staffed by two full-time employees and a handful of volunteers. In addition to its work serving meals to the hungry, MBT also supports an onsite clinic to address health concerns.
When the soup kitchen's analog video surveillance system stopped functioning, MBT looked for a solution that could support the small amount of staff running the organization.
“Being so understaffed, we rely heavily on our new technology to keep our volunteers, service providers and patrons safe wherever they are in this huge facility,” said Dianne Hills, MBT Executive Director. “We can see what’s happening in all the different corners, control access to specific doors and still create a welcoming atmosphere for our patrons.”
MBT installed K&M Communications megapixel cameras, network video intercoms linked to door controllers, and keycard readers at designated doors, enabling staff, volunteers and service providers to securely gain entry to the facility. Staff can view the cameras, communicate with visitors from the video intercoms installed at door entries, and unlock doors all on a desktop or through a smartphone app. According to Hills, these capabilities are particularly valuable as staff can program the guest door to remain locked during meal serving hours, when staff are unable to monitor entrances. At other times, volunteers at the reception desk can use the app’s touch-based controls to communicate and screen people at the entrance, reminding them to wear masks or other protective gear before allowing them access.
Since COVID-19 forced MBT to switch from indoor dining to meals-to-go, the facility uses one of its outdoor cameras to monitor the crowd lining up on the street. This enables them to take attendance in real-time, without sending a staff member outside, to see how many guests are still waiting outside to pick up meals. With the socioeconomic challenges presented by the pandemic, it was essential for MBT to continue its service to the public — which averaged between 80,000 and 90,000 meals served each month during 2021.