Community Servings is a not-for-profit food and nutrition program providing services throughout Massachusetts to individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses. We give our clients, their dependent families, and caregivers appealing, nutritious meals, and send the message to those in greatest need that someone cares. Our goals are to help our clients maintain their health and dignity and preserve the integrity of their families through free, culturally appropriate, home-delivered meals, nutrition education, and other community programs.
Meals Program for the Critically Ill
Community Servings delivers 425,000 free, home-style meals to 1,450 people per year, who are too sick to cook for themselves or their families. Currently caring for clients with 35 different life-threatening illnesses, our service includes a customized, nutritionally-packed lunch, dinner, and snack for sick clients, their caregivers and dependent children, 93% of whom live at or below the poverty level. Our geographic service area includes 215 square miles across eastern Massachusetts. As the only program of its kind in New England, we offer 25 different medically-appropriate menus each week, including a Children's Menu!
Nutrition Education and Counseling Program
Our nutrition education and counseling program builds upon our expertise in nutrition therapy to provide support to clients and community members struggling with critical as well as chronic illnesses. Through the expansion of our nutrition education program, we offer healthy eating course focused on cooking, shopping and good nutrition, as well as a series of monthly "Kitchen Talks" community workshops in our new Nutrition Classroom. Our Registered Dietician and graduate interns offer nutrition counseling to clients over the phone to help them counter the toxic side effects of their medical treatments and cope with other diet-related issues. For those at the highest levels of nutritional vulnerability, we offer home visits. This year we will serve more than 300 individuals and family members through our nutrition education program.
Food Service Job-Training Program
The Community Servings Teaching Kitchen offers a 12-week food service job-training program, focused on those with barriers to employment. Trainees learn basic cooking skills, life skills, food sanitation and receive job placement support. Most importantly, trainees build their self-confidence as they work alongside our staff to help us prepare and deliver meals to the critically ill, giving their job-training experience purpose, and connecting them to the communities in which they live. This year our Teaching Kitchen program will serve 40 trainees.
As one of the largest volunteer programs in the area, Community Servings welcomes 850 volunteers per month to work in our kitchen, deliver meals, and help with our fundraising efforts. Together, these supporters donate over 5,000 hours of free labor each month to care for our sick clients - the equivalent of 30 full time employees.
Meals for Many Social Enterprise Program
Since our relocation to our new facility, we have begun a social enterprise program designed to subsidize our free meals service. Through this business model, we are using the increased capacity of our new state-of-the-art nutrition facility to provide healthy, nutritious, and affordable meals to nonprofits, schools, and agencies that work with other nutritionally vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly. We currently prepare over 1,200 meals per day for local schools and nonprofits.
Technical Assistance Program
We offer technical assistance to programs providing food and nutrition services locally, nationally and internationally. Our leadership role in the Association of Nutrition Services Agencies (ansanutrition.org) has helped to improve nutrition programs here in the US and around the world. We also offer more focused TA support to individual agencies on a contract basis. We are particularly interested in fostering the development of new nutrition programs in underserved communities throughout New England.
Local Foods Program
Recognizing that local foods are generally healthier and more appetizing, Community Servings has launched a variety of local foods initiatives to benefit both our sick clients and Jamaica Plain residents, addressing the "food desert" in our urban neighborhood. We are committed to using fresh, local ingredients in our kitchen, and aim to support and collaborate with local farmers, fishermen and food producers. We are also excited to market local produce and fish to our neighbors, encouraging our vendors to donate their surplus food to us in exchange.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Community Support Fishery (CSF): In partnership with Heaven's Harvest Farm of New Braintree, we sell and distribute 90 CSA shares per season for the farmer. In exchange, he donates all his surplus produce to our meals program. This summer we were excited to inaugurate a new CSF, distributing beautiful whole fish to neighbors in partnership with Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association and Cape Ann Fresh Catch. Again, excess fish goes directly to our free meals program for our critically ill clients.
Herb Garden: Recognizing the importance of fresh herbs to flavor our meals, we planted ninety feet of herb garden in partnership with The Growing Connection (TGC), a grassroots project developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). We use "Earth Boxes," a high-tech growing system that uses less fertilizer and water than a conventional garden to grow our herbs, which are tended by local gardeners (and their kids!) seeking their master gardener certification.
Step Forward Program
Working in partnership with the Massachusetts Parole Board and Bunker Hill Community College, we welcome recent parolees into our kitchen as volunteers, helping them to successfully reenter their communities while searching for employment. One of the first programs of its type in the nation, Step Forward offers ex-offenders the opportunity to gain valuable food service skills and experience while providing Community Servings with an additional source of volunteers to help prepare and package meals for the critically ill. These "Kitchen Interns" volunteer in our Jamaica Plain facility qualifying them for vouchers to take courses at Bunker Hill Community College, apply for our Teaching Kitchen job-training program, or move directly into employment.