2021 Letter from Board President Skip Williams

- June 2, 2021

As Board President of Food & Friends, I wanted to share my utmost appreciation for your support. This past year has forced all of us to find strength and resiliency, but it also challenged us to think creatively. It highlighted stark disparities in our society and gave us opportunities to begin to fix them. Even amid the isolation so many of us felt, Food & Friends gave us a way to stay connected, help each other, and work toward a common purpose.

I am so proud of the staff, volunteers, and donors who stepped up during this trying time. They proved how innovative our organization and community is when faced with a daunting challenge: How to deliver more meals, using fewer volunteers, to clients who were more isolated than ever?

The answer was you. Your generosity allowed our staff to invest in improved infrastructure, learn new systems and fill resource gaps; you allowed us to focus on the task at hand—keeping our clients nourished and safe.

Over the past three years, Food & Friends has grown by more than 30 percent. Demand for medically tailored meals remains high. This spring we revised our annual service projections and now anticipate delivering 1.3 million meals in 2021—100,000 over our original plan. Here is an overview of the impact you made in 2020:

  • 1,200,613 meals were home-delivered in 2020 throughout a 5,346 square mile area of Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. We shifted to no-contact, once-a-week deliveries and no client missed a meal due to the pandemic.
  • 3,625 clients (including dependents and caregivers)—received high-quality nutritionally tailored meals. Each of our 11 specialized meal plans are designed to address a broad range of serious illnesses and treatment side effect faced by our clients:
    • 33% are being treated for cancer—including breast, lung, colon, brain cancer, and multiple myeloma;
    • 17% are living with HIV/AIDS;
    • 12% are expectant mothers with high-risk pregnancies;
    • 11% have advanced diabetes;
    • 8% have Stage 5 renal disease;
    • 19% are being treated for other serious illnesses, including Parkinson’s, ALS, multiple sclerosis, lung disease, and heart failure.
  • 5,436 volunteers helped prepare, package and deliver meals and contributed a total of 74,149 volunteer hours—while representing only two-thirds of our normal volunteer force due to social distancing requirements, these mighty helpers did more work in fewer hours and never skipped a beat.

This is just a snapshot of what your incredible generosity made possible. I hope you will take some time to review our FY2020 Impact Report.

In 2021, we are looking beyond the pandemic, focusing on how we can expand to reach more clients. Medical providers and public officials continue to recognize the positive impact of Food & Friends for their patients and constituents. We are excited about many new opportunities for partnership and growth to ensure that everyone who needs our service has access.

We also recently received the largest gift in our organization’s history—$5 million over five years—from Brad Clark. This investment by Brad, founder and artistic director for the Maryland Lyric Opera and a philanthropist who proudly calls this region home, will allow for several new staff positions and expanded programming. We are humbled Brad chose to invest in our region by way of Food & Friends.

Over the coming year, I look forward to deepening my own connection with the Food & Friends community. It’s part of what makes Food & Friends so unique—we always deliver on the “food” part, but we never forget the “friends.”

As a physician and medical adviser, I would be remiss if I didn’t also encourage you to get vaccinated and continue to follow all public health guidance. It’s not just about us. It’s for those we love and for those we don’t even know. Food & Friends is an organization that looks out for others and the only way through this is together.

I want to again express how grateful the Board is for all of your support. If you have any questions or feedback to share with me, please email me at jwilliams@foodandfriends.org.

My deepest gratitude for all you have given and thank you for being a part of this incredible community.

 

Sincerely,

John “Skip” Williams, MD

Board President, Food & Friends

Professor Emeritus, George Washington University

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