5 Reasons Why Community Servings is a Model
By Cameron Dougal
This article was written as part of the PKG IAP ’23 course SP.256 Informed Philanthropy in Theory and Action. To read more about PKG’s current and past academic courses, click here!
There’s no shortage of Boston-area organizations working on food justice, nutrition education, and last-mile landfill-aversion logistics. Community Servings, Food For Free, The Greater Boston Food Bank, The Food Project, local community centers and mutual aid organizations, free fridges, church collections… with so many organizations in need of donations, you want to make sure every cent is going to be put to good use. Community Servings, however, is doing some unique work by distributing medically tailored meals, providing food service job training, and promoting health equity. Here’s five reasons why they are deserving of your donation.
1. Range of services and job training
Community Servings delivers around 23,000 meals per week, providing scratch-made medically tailored meals to individuals experiencing critical or chronic illness and nutrition insecurity. Their dietitians also work closely with their clients to make sure they’re getting the food they need. They prioritize using local foods and also operate a public pickup location for local produce and fish. On top of all of this, their Teaching Kitchen is a 12-week job-training program for people who face barriers for employment but have interest in careers in the food service industry. These people are connected back into the community they live in through job placements. Community is further developed through their massive volunteer corp. Community Servings is a large organization, but also an efficient one that has carved a strong and essential niche in the Greater Boston food ecosystem.
2. They believe in having their work backed by science.
Community Servings has collaborated with a number of institutions to back up the efficacy of medically tailored meals. One study with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in 2019 found that “participation in a medically tailored meals program was associated with fewer
hospital admissions and nursing home admissions, and less overall medical spending.” Another with the Massachusetts General Hospital found a “16% net reduction in average monthly healthcare costs for patients who received Community Servings’ meals.” A new, even larger study is in the works now with Tufts University. (source 1 & 2)
3. Their funding sources are diverse, signaling long-term security
Their 2021 revenue was broken down as follows: 49% donations, 24% healthcare contracts, 16% government contracts, 11% fundraising events, and 1% donated goods and services. Their contracts specifically means that they are trusted to make an impact by major organizations, and they don’t exist at the whim of big donors or foundations. With a $13 million dollar annual budget, their financial transparency is also top-notch and handled by a qualified team of CPAs and other leadership staff. (source)
4. They have a strong, transparent management team and honor their volunteers
One look at their executive team demonstrates their diversity, which reflects the demographic of the community they serve. The same can be said of their well-qualified and transparent boards of advisors and directors. And with over 85 volunteers daily, they’re pros at managing their workforce. Their well-maintained social media presence demonstrates that their passionate volunteers get the recognition they deserve.
5. Their operation was so well run during the pandemic that they managed to adapt quickly and grow
Unsure if they were going to be shut down, the staff quickly produced and distributed shelf-stable meals that could help their most food-insecure clients weather the tumultuous first few weeks of the pandemic. When their demand for meals grew 50% over 3 months, they responded by establishing an Emergency Relief Fund – quick fundraising that is proof of adept management. Although they had to temporarily suspend their food services training program, they were able to permanently hire 10 full-time staff who had been past participants, further proof that their job training was successful enough to convert participants into full-time, fully-capable chefs. (source)