Community Cooks mobilizes individuals, businesses, civic, educational and faith-based groups to prepare home-cooked food for vulnerable populations seeking assistance from human service agencies in the Greater Boston area. We proudly partner with these agencies that, due to lack of funds and/or facilities, struggle to provide food for those they serve. In contributing nutritious and much-needed food, Community Cooks aims to:
- feed our hungry neighbors who might otherwise go without
- build a bridge of caring between volunteers and community members in need
- support conditions for program participants to achieve success by alleviating their hunger needs
— Community Cooks Mission Statement, from CommunityCooks.org
Community Cooks, a nonprofit organization located in Somerville, Massachusetts, serves home prepared food to vulnerable neighbors in their community. Boston Tutoring Services recently spoke with Victoria I, President and Co-Founder of Community Cooks, about her work at the organization.
Boston Tutoring Services: How did your organization get started?
Victoria: We started as a group of neighbors on a street in Somerville who teamed together to make a meal a month for the residents of the Somerville Homeless Coalition shelter. That was over 25 years ago and the model of cooking a dish at home that’s combined to make a meal continues.
BTS: Which towns and communities does your organization reach?
V: [Our organization serves people in] Somerville, Cambridge, Boston, Quincy, Newton, Watertown, Waltham, Belmont, Malden, Medford, Arlington, Salem, and Lowell.
BTS: How old should children be in order to be able to participate and get involved?
V: Our youngest volunteer is 10 years old – she is quite independent and more or less cooks “solo.” However, many volunteers involve their children in preparing the meal. As for what’s the youngest age before getting involved, we leave that to the parents.
BTS: What is your greatest struggle in running your organization?
V: The need for food support is only increasing and luckily so are the numbers of people interested in participating. While this is great, our staff is stretched. We need more staff but that requires fundraising. I’d imagine most nonprofits will name fundraising as the most challenging task faced by the organization.
BTS: In establishing your organization, what were the goals/mission statement for giving back to the community?
V: I think our tagline or motto expresses our core value: neighbors helping neighbors through sharing food.
BTS: What would you like parents to know about the benefits of having their child experience community involvement and volunteering?
V: Many parents have said that they want to model for their children how to express care for their less fortunate neighbors and understanding the shared humanity of those who serve and those who are served. It comes down to nurturing compassion.