Chef Kevin Conner sees his food make people better – The Boston Globe

Kevin Conner is often at work before 6 a.m. “Every day is different,” says the executive chef of Community Servings, the Boston-area nonprofit that delivers free medically appropriate meals to critically ill people and their families. Conner estimates that his kitchen produces between 1,200 and 1,300 meals a day, from scratch.

A typical day might include prepping a last-minute delivery of donated veggies from a local farm, coordinating groups of corporate volunteers, and figuring out how to make a wholesome, tasty chili, without tomatoes and beans, for people on a renal diet because of kidney disease. Conner says, “I enjoy working with volunteers . . . and being able to give people foods that are comforting and delicious.” Restaurant customers come in and “they go away. We get to see our clients getting better every day, and we really believe our food is a part of that.”

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The chef started first went to school for accounting, but after a restaurant job, he enrolled in Johnson & Wales’ culinary arts program. He trained with Boston chefs Barbara Lynch and Michael Schlow, and later moved into the corporate sector, working in Atlantic City casinos, and as executive chef at Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, where he heard about Community Servings. He says he always planned to find work where he could give back.

“I wanted to get the opportunity to teach, and do something with food where it was benefiting people.” Community Servings allows him to cook creatively, in ways that help the very sick. “I love . . . that you get pushed every day to work with fresh ingredients, but do it specifically for diets that are there to help people really heal themselves,” he says. “We really believe that food is medicine.” Community Servings, 18 Marbury Terrace, Jamaica Plain. 617-522-7777,

02/20/2015 JAMAICA PLAIN, MA Volunteer Larry Wilkins (cq) 14 (left) and prep cook Lakeisha Hall (cq) build bags for clients at Community Servings (cq) in Jamaica Plain. (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)

Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Volunteer Larry Wilkins, prep cook Lakeisha Hall.