Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Volunteers in the kitchen at Community Servings in Jamaica Plain. (Photo: Community Servings)

A nonprofit that serves some of the most vulnerable in Cambridge and Somerville is pleading for volunteers to replace ones disappearing during the January coronavirus surge.

Volunteer levels have dropped even though demand for the medically tailored meals by Community Servings has increased by more than 80 percent since the pandemic began, the nonprofit said. It now delivers more than 18,000 a week, including to many people in Cambridge and Somerville.

Community Servings, founded in 1990, operates out of a professional, staffed kitchen in Jamaica Plain, but also has ties to the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard, a spokesman said Saturday. Some Cambridge businesses also support Community Servings by providing volunteers for days of service, and the nonprofit’s board of advisers includes Cambridge and Somerville residents and workers.

But the pandemic, and especially the omicron surge, have taken a toll on volunteer levels.

“Volunteers have been at the heart of our mission since we began, essential to ensuring that we can feed our neighbors in need and help maintain their health,” said David B. Waters, chief executive of Community Servings. “Given the effects of this pandemic surge, we are making a plea for anyone with a few hours to lend a helping hand in our kitchen.”

Volunteers help peel and chop vegetables; portion soups, stews and salads; and pack weekly meal bags for clients living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes and heart disease, among other illnesses, according to a Thursday email from the nonprofit.

All volunteers are required to be fully vaccinated, have their temperature taken and wear a surgical or KN95 face mask – which will be provided – at Community Servings’ Food Campus in Jamaica Plain on the T’s orange line. The kitchen is equipped with hospital-grade air ventilation and filtration systems.

Visit to sign up for three-hour shifts Monday through Friday.

This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.