Community Servings Completes $25 Million Renovation and Expansion Project

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Community Servings, a nonprofit provider of medically tailored meals and nutrition services to individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses, celebrated the completion of a $25 million kitchen expansion and three-story addition project at its longtime home in Jamaica Plain.

 

With the opening of a 31,000-square-foot food campus, Community Servings plans to double the number of people involved in its volunteer programs and triple production of its scratch-made meals. The nonprofit is now well-positioned to expand its service footprint statewide and will soon begin feeding even more critically and chronically ill individuals and their families across Massachusetts. Community Servings is now prepared to meet new demand from a state-led initiative that will provide health-related nutrition supports to certain patients beginning in January 2020.

“For 30 years, we’ve been focused on bringing nutritious, scratch-made, medically tailored meals to our neighbors in need. With the opening of our new Food Campus, we plan to double and eventually triple the amount of meals we prepare and deliver over the next 10 years,” said David B. Waters, CEO of Community Servings. “Our goal is to ensure that people across the Commonwealth who are living with critical and chronic illnesses receive the nutritious meals they need to maintain and improve their health.”

Community Servings celebrated the transformation of its 179 Amory St. building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 17, and was joined by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, among other distinguished guests. Also in attendance were Community Servings’ board of directors, philanthropic supporters, longtime friends, volunteers, and dedicated employees of the organization.

“Access to nutrition is crucial to overall well-being, and that’s especially true for the people supported by Community Servings, which is why we’re glad to see this expansion,” said Governor Baker. “We have been pleased to support Community Servings through the Massachusetts Food Ventures Program and look forward to the organization’s continued work to support vulnerable populations.”

"Community Servings does incredible work, and is a helping hand and beacon of hope during the most difficult time in people's lives," said Mayor Walsh. "This expansion will allow both volunteer programs and job training programs to grow, representing Boston's values, and what we stand for. Congratulations to Community Servings on this big step, and thank you to all who made this possible."

Medically Tailored Meals

With the expanded kitchen, Community Servings will begin increasing the number of medically tailored meals prepared and delivered annually. The agency’s goal is to increase production to 1.5 million meals per year over the next decade. The increased production capacity will alleviate the current waitlist of over 100 potential clients in need, and allow Community Servings to fulfill new contracts with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) that will soon begin covering health-related social needs for certain members of MassHealth (Medicaid).

Community Servings prepares meals to meet 15 types of diets, all overseen by registered dietitian nutritionists, for clients battling 35 different illnesses, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, kidney disease, diabetes and heart disease. More than half of the clients have multiple illnesses, and 94 percent are living in poverty. Meals are made from scratch, delivered weekly, and include five days’ worth of lunch, dinner and snacks.

Volunteer Opportunities

The project doubles the capacity at Community Servings for volunteers from the community and local companies who visit every day to peel and chop fresh produce and package meals for delivery. The nonprofit currently averages about 600 volunteers per month, adding up to 53,000 volunteer hours per year – the equivalent of 50 extra full-time employees.

Community Servings offers team-building opportunities for corporations, religious groups, alumni associations and other organizations. Groups receive a 30-minute food safety orientation training session before each shift.

A new, dedicated Volunteer Prep Kitchen allows families with young children and individuals of different abilities to volunteer in meal preparation and packaging within a safe and universally accessible environment.

Teaching Kitchen

The new building has more spaces for classrooms and culinary instruction, allowing the organization to increase the number of graduates from its Teaching Kitchen, a food service job training program for people who are navigating major life transitions and facing barriers to employment. More than 80 percent of last year’s graduates obtained gainful employment.

The program recently expanded to six sessions per year, up from four, offering more frequent start dates and opportunities for trainees to participate. The new building features a Learning Kitchen, a dedicated, state-of-the-art demo space that is ideal for visiting chefs from local restaurants and food service companies to lead hands-on culinary instruction.

The Learning Kitchen overlooks Community Servings’ herb garden, providing easy access for trainees to learn how to use fresh herbs in nutritious recipes while echoing classroom instruction on how food is grown.

Policy & Research

Community Servings’ new administrative space includes a Food & Health Policy Center where staff oversee research into how medically tailored meals impact the costs of care in public and private health care models. The goal is to prove the power of food as medicine with clear and compelling data.

Recent published studies involving Community Servings have found 16 percent net reductions in medical costs associated with patients who receive medically tailored meals. More and more providers are viewing medically tailored, home-delivered meals as a low-cost, high-value service for severely ill patients.

Food Is The Foundation

Community Servings recently surpassed 97 percent of its Food is the Foundation Campaign goal to raise $12 million to support the project. In addition to private donations, the federal New Markets Tax Credits program and Healthy Food Finance Initiative were key components of the project financing.

The organization broke ground in May 2018 and continued to operate on site while its administration offices were relocated into the three-story addition and its kitchen, volunteer meal preparation, and food-service training spaces were expanded throughout the new and existing building.

Community Servings engaged numerous partners for the project, including construction manager Shawmut Design and Construction, development adviser QPD, architect Jacobs, engineer Bohler Engineering, environmental adviser Ransom Consulting, and financial adviser Affirmative Investments. The law firms Brown Rudnick LLP and Greenberg Traurig LLP provided pro bono legal services. Lenders include Cambridge Savings Bank, City of Boston, Low Income Investment Fund, Nonprofit Finance Fund, PNC Financial Services Group, and the Property and Casualty Initiative.

 

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