Nonprofit organization Community Servings has an important job on a normal basis, but it has become increasingly vital in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
Community Servings provides nutritious, medically-tailored meals to people with critical and chronic illnesses, and the organization’s team has ramped up its efforts to continue providing this service to its clients.
In a letter posted on the community Servings website, CEO David Waters said, “As a production facility that prepares food for critically and chronically ill neighbors across Massachusetts, we are already operating under the most stringent health and safety measures. Our normal operational guidelines include following the CDC’s recommended handwashing instructions, and requiring employees and kitchen volunteers to stay home when feeling unwell.
Our kitchen team and volunteers already wear and change protective gloves throughout the day when preparing and packaging food, and prepping meal bags for delivery. We know firsthand that for people whose immune system is working overtime due to an illness like HIV/AIDS, cancer, heart failure, kidney disease and more, colds and viruses – while inconveniences for most of us – can be life-threatening.”
Waters told the Gazette that in addition to distributing its cooked meals to clients, pantry boxes of a week’s worth of shelf-stable foods are being delivered to clients to cover them if the organization is unable to make and deliver regular meals in the case of a possible shutdown order.
These boxes include things like canned and packaged goods that represent the same amount of calories required for each client. Though the boxes are not Community Servings’ first option, they are “a good option in a crisis,” Waters said. “We are working with our team to redesign our prepared meals to be as efficient as possible because we see a drop in both volunteers and staff due to the crisis.”
Additionally, Community Servings has state a rapid response fund that is trying to raise $2 million over the next couple of weeks, Waters said, which will allow the organization to feed more people and hire more staff.
Waters said they want to have enough staff in kitchens and delivery trucks to have two separate teams running concurrently—in case one team gets infected, the other can still continue to operate. “Donations are the most important thing to get us the resources to make it happen,” he said.
In about a week, they will have a better idea of what they need in terms of volunteers, he said, but right now they are trying to limit the number of people to limit the risk of infection.
Community Servings’ Communications Manager Ryan Levasseur said he wants clients and supporters to know that the organization remains open, as it is an essential business. “It’s so important that our clients and supporters know that we’re going to continue to be there with them.”
Waters said that one shipment of 1000 shelf-stable meal boxes went out last week, and 1000 are set to go out at the end of this week. He said the boxed meals have been approved “but they are not what we’d prefer,” he said.
Waters said in the letter, “I am confident that these extra steps, combined with our already strict approach to health and safety, will allow us to continue serving our clients as we closely monitor and navigate this developing situation.”
To make a donation to Community Servings, visit servings.org.