Community Servings, a nonprofit food and nutrition program, serves individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses in Massachusetts. Recently, Boston Tutoring Services spoke with Kate White, Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator at Community Servings, about the organization.
Boston Tutoring Services: How did your organization get started?
Kate White: Community Servings was founded in 1989 to provide home-delivered meals to individuals living with HIV/AIDS, before there were medications, and food was the only thing to help keep people alive. What we think of as the first example of Food is Medicine. Over the past 26 years, we’ve evolved from a small neighborhood meals program delivering a hot dinner to 30 individuals struggling with HIV/AIDS to a regional program serving medically tailored, made-from-scratch meals and providing nutrition education to over 1,600 people with a variety of critical illnesses who are too sick to shop and cook for themselves and their families.
BTS: Which towns and communities does your organization reach?
KW: We deliver meals to 20 cities and towns in Eastern Massachusetts – from Lawrence and Lowell, to Worcester, to Brockton and of course, Greater Boston.
BTS: How old should children be in order to be able to participate and get involved?
KW: Families with children ages 13 and older can help us prepare or package meals for our clients. Volunteer shifts are available Monday through Saturday, in the morning (9am to noon), afternoon (1 to 4pm), or evenings. Families with younger children can make a six-month commitment to volunteer to deliver meals on Saturdays. At different times during the year, we also have volunteer shifts to support our fundraising events.
BTS: What is the best thing that children can learn from working with your organization?
KW: Our kitchen is where members of the community come together to serve those in greatest need. Volunteers also learn about the connection between hunger and health – how food heals those who are too sick to shop and cook for themselves. Children can learn the importance of volunteering and experience diversity in all its forms. They also learn about safe food handling and the importance of proper handwashing.
BTS: What is your greatest struggle in running your organization?
KW: We are the only program of our kind in New England, and the need continues to grow faster than we can. Right now, we have a waiting list of approximately 75 individuals. There is a great need for our nutritious, medically tailored meals and our goal is to meet that need. We rely on 50-75 volunteers to help us prepare 2,000 meals a day for our sick clients.
BTS: In establishing your organization, what were the goals/mission statement for giving back to the community?
KW: We give our clients, their dependent families and caregivers, beautiful, 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.