25 Years of Delivering Hope
Reverend Carla Gorrell meets with leaders of Westminster Presbyterian Church to discuss their vision for a home-delivered meal service for people with AIDS. A few contributors provide start-up funds and 21 area restaurants donate meals to be delivered – one meal a day, five days a week. The Westminster Presbyterian Church donates kitchen and office space to launch the project. The World Health Organization (WHO) declares December 1st to be the first World AIDS Day.
In May, Food & Friends incorporates as a nonprofit and begins preparing its own meals from the church kitchen. Already sensing the great need for its services, Food & Friends’ Board of Directors begins planning to acquire and install commercial kitchen equipment to increase the organization’s capacity.
With six staff members and the addition of neighborhood drop-off sites, service is extended to Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland. A computer system is added to help manage client records and delivery schedules. A dedicated group of 200 volunteers now deliver about 65 meals a day to 210 clients.
The staff continues to increase and the kitchen becomes busier, increasing the “evening prep” session from three to five nights a week. To support this growth, Chef David Hagedorn creates the first Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction. Held at the West End Café, 12 chefs helped to raise $45,000. 350 volunteers deliver to 14 routes.
Food & Friends expands services again, adding Saturday deliveries. Deliveries now include HIV+ residents at two homeless shelters. The volunteer base increases to 475 volunteers delivering to 25 routes. AIDS becomes the number one cause of death for U.S. men ages 25-44.
A registered dietitian is hired to provide nutrition counseling to clients. Also, recognizing the grim reality that clients with children are passing the food delivered on to their kids, Food & Friends begins providing services to all dependents in the household.
Food & Friends begins to outgrow the space in Westminster Presbyterian Church, and the Board adopts a strategic plan to move to a larger facility. A warehouse is located a few blocks from the church and renovation begins. Food & Friends also grows geographically, extending service to Prince William County.
Carla Gorrell leaves Food & Friends and Craig Shniderman is hired as Executive Director. The new facility renovation is completed in July, and the staff moves to 58 L Street, SE. Seeking to provide services to an ever-widening geographic area, Groceries-to-Go – a weekly delivery of shelf-stable items – is created for clients who cannot be reached on a daily basis. By the end of the year, 500,000 cases of AIDS have been reported in the U.S.
On March 29th, Food & Friends delivers its 1,000,000th meal. With the quick growth of Groceries-to-Go, the delivery area expands to more than 5,000 square miles. More than 1,900 people ride their bikes from Philadelphia to Washington, DC in the first AIDSRide, raising net funds of $793,000. 700 volunteers deliver to 75 clients every day.
Nutrition education and counseling is expanded with the addition of a second full-time dietitian. The staff now totals 42, complemented by a volunteer base of 750. The year ends on a high note when Vice President and Mrs. Gore visit Food & Friends on World AIDS Day.
Food & Friends celebrates ten years of service to the community and, once again, expands its services. A collaboration with Pediatric AIDS Care was launched to provide an after-school food program for children with HIV/AIDS or who have siblings with HIV/AIDS.
Using new technology and kitchen equipment, Food & Friends switches from hot meal deliveries to chilled meal deliveries that could be reheated. This keeps the food safer and more appetizing for clients. Large walk-in refrigerators and insulated delivery bags become familiar items at Food & Friends. Food & Friends continues to increase clients outside of DC.
On Valentine’s Day, a pilot project called “Special Delivery” is launched to provide meal delivery services to people with non-AIDS related illnesses such as breast cancer, lung cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease and advanced Parkinson’s disease. The immediate success of the project leads the Board of Directors to officially expand the mission to include cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. The Board also approves the initiation of a Capital Campaign to raise the funds needed to construct a larger and permanent facility.
Food & Friends expands geographically again, adding the city of Hagerstown in Washington County, Maryland for grocery deliveries. A 2.5-acre piece of land in northeast Washington, DC is located as a potential site for the new facility. For the first time in Food & Friends’ history, more than 1 million meals are delivered in a single year. The Pink Ribbon Delivery Program was created, thanks to the Avon Foundation for Women, to improve the care of women and men living with cancer and their families.
Land at 219 Riggs Road, NE is purchased. Gensler, the world’s largest commercial architectural firm, develops building designs and a groundbreaking ceremony is held. The Avon Foundation announces a $750,000 gift to the Capital Campaign, the largest private gift made to date.
The year of the battle against Mother Nature begins with a blizzard that dumps 18 inches of snow on the Washington, DC area. During the storm, Food & Friends perseveres and delivers meals to every client. In September, as Hurricane Isabel approaches, Food & Friends again makes sure every client is well-cared for and has the food he or she needs.
With challenge grants from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, Food & Friends completes the Capital Campaign, raising nearly $8.9 million for the new facility. Operations officially begin from the new building in October.
Food & Friends takes on a leadership role in a lobbying effort to include “nutrition services” language in Ryan White CARE Act Reauthorization. The effort leads to the listing of Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) as a core service in the Act and that HIV/AIDS Education Centers include nutrition faculty and dietetics professionals among those eligible for training. The volunteer base grows to 3,500 people.
Food & Friends conducts an impact study regarding the benefits of specialized nutrition, working with two Emerson Hunger Fellows. The results of the study demonstrate that comprehensive nutrition support is an effective and necessary supplement to medical treatment. It is found that Food & Friends’ nutrition services help patients manage disease and achieve improved health outcomes.
DC Mayor Adrian Fenty delivers 10,000,000th meal to a client during a special ceremony at Food & Friends. The Home-Delivered Meals program is expanded to remote residents beyond the Beltway in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Maryland, completing the first year of the Maryland Expansion Project by serving a total of 117,196 meals to 282 persons in this geographic area.
A formal Service Learning Program is created thanks to a $1 million multi-year gift from The Charlotte’s Web Foundation. This gift remains the largest private contribution received by Food & Friends. AT&T donates a $295,000 multi-year grant to the Service Learning Program which expanded programming to DC public schools.
Food & Friends launches Capacity2, a new delivery schedule for clients participating in the Home-Delivered Meals program. Clients now receive double portions three days per week instead of six daily deliveries, creating flexibility for clients and improving efficiency.
On Christmas Day, Food & Friends is featured on CNN as part of the "Giving in Focus" hour-long special. The Food & Friends segment is played several times, including on CNN's American Morning and CNN Newsroom on December 30th.
Food & Friends receives a $450,000, three year grant from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, which provides clients in the Groceries-to-Go program with fresh produce. The grant makes it possible to deliver more than 40,000 bags of fruits and vegetables.
In recognition of the rapidly growing population in Montgomery County, an expanded referral partnership is developed with Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. This partnership will add an additional 50,000 meals in 2013. And, to more effectively serve those with HIV/AIDS, eligibility requirements are broadened to account for secondary illnesses worsened by a client’s status.
We are excited to be celebrating 25 years of service to the community. This year marks a bright future for us and the people we serve. For those facing HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses, the battle is far from over. We just make sure no one has to do it on an empty stomach.