Food For Free awarded $180,000 Cummings Foundation Grant

Cambridge/Somerville nonprofit receives 3 years of funding from Cummings Foundation 

SOMERVILLE, May 24, 2023 – Food For Free is one of 150 local nonprofits selected to receive funding from the Cummings Foundation $30 Million Grants Program. The Cambridge & Somerville-based organization was selected from a total of 630 applicants during a competitive review process. It will receive $180,000 over three years.

Food For Free is the leading food rescue and redistribution nonprofit dedicated to providing reliable access to fresh and nutritious food to Eastern Massachusetts communities. The organization rescues food that would otherwise go to waste and creates new distribution channels to reach underserved populations in 27 communities across the region. Founded in 1981 as one of the nation’s first food rescue organizations, Food For Free now serves more than 150,000 food insecure Massachusetts residents and distributes 7.5 million pounds of nutritious fresh and prepared foods annually.

“We were elated to receive the good news,” shared Marena Burnett, Chief Development Officer. “This funding will enable Food For Free to continue to respond to the increase in hunger in our community through our innovative programs and partnerships. The need for our services is greater than ever and we are grateful for the financial support and recognition from the Cummings Foundation.”

 The Cummings $30 Million Grant Program primarily supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties.

Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the areas where it owns commercial property. Its buildings are all managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 11 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

 “The way the local nonprofit sector perseveres, steps up, and pivots to meet the shifting needs of the community is most impressive,” said Cummings Foundation executive director Joyce Vyriotes. “We are incredibly grateful for these tireless efforts to support people in the community and to increase equity and access to opportunities.”

 The majority of the grant decisions were made by about 90 volunteers. They worked across a variety of committees to review and discuss the proposals and then, together, determine which requests would be funded. Among these community volunteers were business and nonprofit leaders, mayors, college presidents, and experts in areas such as finance and DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion).

 “It would not be possible for the Foundation to hire the diversity and depth of expertise and insights that our volunteers bring to the process,” said Vyriotes. “We so appreciate the substantial time and thought they dedicated toward ensuring that our democratized version of philanthropy results in equitable outcomes that will really move the needle on important issues in local communities.”

 The Foundation and volunteers first identified 150 organizations to receive three-year grants of up to $225,000 each. The winners included first-time recipients as well as nonprofits that had previously received Cummings grants. Twenty-five of this latter group of repeat recipients were then selected by a volunteer panel to have their grants elevated to 10-year awards ranging from $300,000 to $1 million each.

 This year’s grant recipients represent a wide variety of causes, including housing and food insecurity, workforce development, immigrant services, social justice, education, and mental health services. The nonprofits are spread across 46 different cities and towns.

 Cummings Foundation has now awarded $480 million to greater Boston nonprofits. The complete list of this year’s 150 grant winners, plus nearly 1,500 previous recipients, is available at

About Food For Free

Food For Free is a Cambridge and Somerville-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing Eastern Massachusetts with reliable access to fresh and nutritious food. Food For Free accomplishes its mission through food rescue, partnerships with schools, colleges, and community food programs, and our own direct service programs. In the last year, Food For Free distributed 7.5 million pounds of nutritious food to over 25 communities throughout Eastern Massachusetts. To learn more, visit us at, or follow Food For Free on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @foodforfreeorg.

About Cummings Foundation

Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings of Winchester, MA and has grown to be one of the largest private foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities, in Marlborough and Woburn, and Cummings Health Sciences, LLC. Additional information is available at