Community Servings: Healthy Food as a Fundamental Human Right

Community Servings continues to serve healthy meals to the most vulnerable populations during COVID-19, despite being "stuck between a rock and a hard place."

April 14, 2020

“Stocking up on food is always hard for me. In addition to my meals, I am so grateful for the extra boxes of food that you sent.”

“My pantry is fuller than it’s been in a long time. I now feel safe and prepared. Thank you for what you do!”

It’s thank you notes like these that lift the spirits of the now small but mighty team at Community Servings as they work hard to provide more meals than ever. When the COVID-19 crisis began to have an impact on Greater Boston, Community Servings staff drastically transformed the way they prepare and deliver meals.  


Community Servings logo
Under normal circumstances, Community Servings has 75-100 volunteers helping every day. But there is nothing normal about this crisis. Today, the nonprofit is continuing its crucial work with only 10 volunteers a day. In addition to the dip in volunteers, the organization has had to implement new production strategies, including meticulous cleaning measures, social distancing cooking and shifts for all employees to help in the kitchen. It’s challenging, but it’s also teamwork at its best.

Community Servings was founded in 1990 with the mission of actively engaging the community in providing medically tailored, nutritious, made-from-scratch meals to chronically and critically ill individuals and their families. The organization believes that access to healthy food is a fundamental human right.

David Waters, CEO of Community Servings, spoke about the particular challenges they are facing. “We’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We’re feeding some of the most vulnerable people in our community, such as individuals who are immune suppressed, homebound, food insecure and have disabilities. At the same time, we’ve also lost most of our volunteers.”
A man leaning over a van of food, stirring with his hands. Photo credit: Community Servings
Photo courtesy of Community Servings.

A signature element of Community Servings is its job training program. Over the course of 12 weeks, the program teaches food preparation and cooking techniques while offering job placement and mentoring to individuals who are interested in working in the food service industry but face barriers to full-time employment. And it’s working: 80 percent of last year’s graduates were placed in jobs.

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, a number of the organization’s graduates, some who have been away as long as 10 years, have come back after being laid off by their current employers to lend a hand in the kitchen. “It’s wonderful to see these old friends helping out,” said Waters.

Although the challenges to continuing this high level of food production are changing daily, with new safety measures and health concerns emerging, Waters emphasized how proud he is of the work ethic exhibited by his entire staff. “I’m seeing our team step up in new ways. It’s a band of brothers and sisters coming together to make things happen. Whether they’re working from home or in our facility, everyone is giving it their all.” 

This is one in a series of stories about grantees of the Boston Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund. These Greater Boston nonprofits are on the front-lines of our community's response to this crisis. While we are all struggling to cope with the hardships of the coronavirus, these organizations, their leaders and their staff are serving the most vulnerable among us. Boston Indicators, the Boston Foundation’s Research Center, is providing valuable data and analysis for these stories. Visit for more on the COVID-19 Response Fund.