By Ariana Colozzo
The goal of Community Cooks is to make sure no hungry or vulnerable neighbor goes without food, and to achieve that goal, they work with dozens of partner organizations and hundreds of volunteer cooks. Due to budget cuts that many of their partner agencies face, they are no longer able to provide all necessities, including food.
In 1990, a small group decided they wanted to help fill in the gap and wanted to help stop the rise of homelessness by supporting the Somerville Homeless Coalition. Eight neighbors from the Westwood Road in Somerville joined together to cook their first meal for the SHC’s shelter. And they continued cooking one a month for the SHC.
In the last 27 years, Community Cooks has grown to nearly 1,000 volunteers and many different supporters and partnering agencies in the Greater Boston Area and beyond with one goal: serving homeless adults and children, women in crisis, at-risk youth, low income families, seniors and students, veterans, those with mental disabilities, and anyone else in need of a meal. Today, Community Cooks serve over a hundred meals each month to almost 4,000 participants.
“I can’t believe people take time out of their own life to cook food for someone like me, someone they don’t even know. I feel like part of a family,” a participant said.
There are different kinds of volunteers that keep the program running. Individual cooks sign up and are put in teams, or volunteers can create their own teams with family and friends. Each member cooks one part of the meal – meat, side grain, vegetable or salad, and dessert or fruit. Larger teams, like workplaces or churches, can provide even more meals to those in need. Members also provide lunches or “snack packs,” with smaller meals of sandwiches and fruit.
In July 2016, Community Cooks began their “Year in Transition,” in which the founder and president, Vicky, began to step back. Since then, the organization has recruited a new program director to work with the staff and community board members to continue the mission of Community Cooks. To celebrate Vicky’s many years of devotion, Community Cooks is holding a gala in her honor, aptly named Celebrate: Our Founder, Our Future.
The gala will be held on Saturday, May 20 at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA, featuring cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, an auction, and look the future of Community Cooks.