A Message from Carrie - Fall 2021

- September 15, 2021

Dear Friends,

For the Food & Friends community of clients, staff, volunteers, and supporters, the events of the past 18 months have been a powerful lesson in navigating change. As the essential nature of our work became even more apparent to people across our region, it affirmed what supporters like you have known for years: that what we do is crucial for those we serve.

Thanks to you, we have proven our ability to address community-wide needs and provide food that heals under the most challenging circumstances. We never wavered from our mission of delivering hope, one meal at a time.

As the challenges of the Delta variant continue to put our clients at risk, we will continue to respond to the guidelines to be sure that each person we care for has what they need. Sometimes that means asking office staff to roll up their sleeves in the kitchen, or leaning on our donor and volunteer community to lend a little more support. When we’ve done that, in every case, you have risen to the challenge.

We continue to be nimble as we respond to the guidelines of operating a safe workplace for staff and volunteers. And we continue to enhance our services to clients. For example, in the early days of the pandemic, we streamlined our menus to quickly change to delivering meals only once a week. Over the past year, we’ve solicited feedback from clients and re-introduced additional menu items, including new ones, adding more variety back to the food we send. Additionally, we’ve become more attuned to the needs of our clients experiencing social isolation. We now screen clients for isolation, we’ve added Zoom support groups, and we link them to additional programming in the community.

Your support has made it possible for us to serve more clients than we did before the pandemic, including expansion to new groups. An exciting development is our partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to deliver medically tailored meals to their patients across the region. And the switch to once-weekly frozen food deliveries, which we instituted at the beginning of the COVID epidemic will enable us to offer prepared meals by shipping to our clients living in the furthest reaches of our delivery area, where before we were only able to deliver groceries. By expanding our footprint in the more rural counties we deliver to, we are breaking down barriers to food access and taking on health and food system inequities in areas with fewer resources. In doing so, we are at the forefront of leading change in the food as medicine space.

One of my biggest concerns is that many people have changed how they interact with the health care system during the pandemic, delaying necessary doctors visits due to concerns about COVID exposure. Our clients are referred to us by their health care providers, so we’ve enhanced our outreach to referral partners to encourage them to refer clients in need, and we’ve educated clients about the telehealth opportunities available to them.

The pandemic reminded us of who we are, why we are here, and how important our services are for clients living with serious and chronic illnesses. Our role in the broader health and food systems is to make sure that nutrition is available to those that need it most. And it isn’t just our home-delivered meals that make a difference, but also the work of our registered dietitians, who provide personalized nutrition counseling and create meal plans to address each client’s nutritional needs.

As a supporter, you have shown us how capable you are of rising to unforeseen challenges with compassion. I am both grateful and in awe of your generosity. Thank you for making our work possible.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns. My email is cstoltzfus@foodandfriends.org

With gratitude,

Carrie Stoltzfus

Carrie Stoltzfus, MPH

Executive Director

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