Facility Security, Security Hardware and Technology

Mass. Soup Kitchen Upgrades Security with Integrated System

My Brother’s Table (MBT), the largest soup kitchen on Massachusetts’ North Shore, has replaced its analog surveillance cameras with a new security solution from Axis Communications—enhancing safety and efficiency at the facility and alleviating the workload of its lean staff.

surveillance system

“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, executive director of MBT. “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. Having the new system for the holidays was especially appreciated because it helped us maintain a warm, open setting during the busiest, most important time of the year.”

Located in Lynn, Mass., the soup kitchen was founded in 1982 and provides more than 80,000 free meals each month to those in need. Since its founding, MBT has served more than 5 million meals, and it 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.

MBT turned to K&M Communications, an integrated security solutions provider, when its analog cameras and intercoms stopped functioning. Part of this “rip-and-replace” project included installing new megapixel cameras, ensuring coverage where there had been none before. To improve door security, old intercoms were replaced with new network video intercoms, which were linked to door controllers, allowing for remote activation. Additionally, keycard readers were installed at designated doors, enabling staff, volunteers, and service providers to securely gain entry to the facility. The new comprehensive solution combines video surveillance and access control, improving coverage of MBT’s interior spaces, parking lot, and surrounding streets on a platform that is easily accessed and operated by the staff.

This new, integrated system is designed for flexible operation, as 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 intuitive, 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 new 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.

“Food insecurity continues to be a problem for our community, whether it’s families unable to stretch their budget, people who are homeless, or the elderly,” said Hills. “But thanks to generous public donations, selfless volunteers, and our new security technology, we’ve been able to provide a safe and secure place for them to turn.”