Happy Food Day! Congratulations on the recent Boston Business Journal (@BBJNewsroom) article about the expansion of Community Servings’ mission and geographic reach to Worcester. Kudos as well for the 20th anniversary of Pie in the Sky. Tell us about Community Servings and your involvement in the organization.
DW: Thanks to the Food Day MA organizers for helping spread the word about Community Servings on Food Day! I’ve been involved with the organization since its founding in 1989, and I’ve been the Executive Director/CEO since 1999. A coalition of AIDS activists, faith groups, and community organizations founded Community Servings to provide home-delivered meals to individuals living with HIV/AIDS. When we started we were feeding thirty people living with HIV/AIDS each week. Today we prepare and deliver 7,500 lunches and dinners each week to the homes of almost 775 individuals and families throughout Massachusetts who are homebound with an acute life-threatening illness such as breast cancer, renal failure, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and diabetes, as well as HIV/AIDS.
Q: What is “Medical Nutrition Therapy,” and how does Community Servings put the concept into practice for your clients here in Massachusetts?
DW: Medical Nutrition Therapy is an approach to treating critical and chronic illnesses, offering nutritional counseling and medically tailored menus developed by our registered dietitian, delivered weekly to our clients homes. We offer our clients 25 different diet combinations, including renal, diabetic, vegetarian and low Vitamin K, to address specific illnesses and side effects of medications. By regularly eating nutritious foods that are tailored to their specific medical needs, our clients have the physical and emotional support they need to stick with their medical regimens and manage their illnesses.
Q: When you say “Medical Nutrition Therapy” or “food as medicine,” I think “hospital food.” How are the meals Community Servings prepares different from what we think of as “hospital food.”
DW: We partner with local farmers and fishermen, and grow our own herbs to ensure that the raw ingredients in our meals are wholesome, fresh, and visually appealing. Our Executive Chef, Tim Williams, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has 35 years of culinary experience. We feed our clients vibrant, culturally appropriate comfort foods, like chicken ratatouille during summer or Jamaican style shepherd’s pie in the fall. We strive to make the food resonate with our clients on an emotional level, evoking “food memories” of the meals their grandmother served when they were children.
Q: What actions can readers of this post take on this #FoodDayMA to support Community Servings programs?
DW: We rely on volunteers for a wide range of activities, including preparing and packaging meals in our kitchen, delivering meals to our clients, and assisting with special events. Corporate and student volunteers can sign up for our adopt-a-shift program, committing to helping our kitchen on a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. From February through April, college students take part in Alternative Spring Break (ASB), a national movement that promotes service in communities in need. Finally you can buy a Thanksgiving pie to support Pie in the Sky, or you can simply make a donation. Every $25 donated feeds a sick neighbor for a week!