- January 27, 2020
Your friendship and support made my first year as Executive Director incredibly rewarding. Thank you! I’m proud to share the impact you helped make possible.
Last year, we set a goal to provide vital nutrition to even more individuals battling serious illnesses. We knew that more people needed our unique services and that the need was urgent. With your generous support, Food & Friends grew by 10 percent this past year.
What does 10 percent growth mean? It means 596 additional individuals whose lives have been touched. It means nearly 160,000 more meals brought to the doorstep. And it means that each one of those people had someone in their corner so they didn’t have to fight their illness alone.
You may recall that I had a goal to expand our eligibility. And, with your generosity we did! In March of 2019, we extended our eligibility requirements to include six additional illnesses—congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, Parkinson’s, cardiopulmonary obstructive disorder (COPD), multiple sclerosis and ALS. This means that we’re able to be much more comprehensive in our approach to addressing the needs of those who are too ill to prepare food on their own.
Unsurprisingly, one of our biggest areas of growth was in serving those with end-stage renal disease, which affects hundreds of thousands of Americans. Dialysis treatments and the dietary regimens these clients face are incredibly burdensome to manage. People on dialysis who don’t follow the appropriate diet may put themselves at risk for heart damage, but our meals are tailored to their needs.
Another factor in our growth was our strengthened partnerships with Medicaid managed care organizations. While traditionally we’ve received all of our referrals from a client’s doctor, health insurance providers are recognizing the impact that medically-tailored meals have on the health of their sickest members. Our home-delivered meals are changing their trajectories, reducing trips to the emergency room and keeping patients healthy, nourished, and at home where they can better thrive.
I’d also like to give you a sense of what’s happening on a national level. Food & Friends is a founding member of the Food Is Medicine Coalition (FIMC), which advocates for home-delivered, medically-tailored meals across the country. As the impact of such programs becomes increasingly clear, FIMC is working to create national standards and to help smaller organizations adopt these standards in their work. Your support at the local level is helping to move the needle by changing the landscape nationwide. Better health is a need we all share.
Finally, I want to affirm how important you are to our mission and growth. Our staff is mighty but they can only deliver on our promise to serve those living with illnesses with the help of our community. With half of our $10.9 million operating budget funded through philanthropy, your personal generosity is the foundation for each of our successes and growth.
It’s an unfortunate truth, but illness affects everyone in our community, no matter who they are. While emotionally and physically difficult, it also ties us together. We see this connection first hand as donors become clients, clients become volunteers, volunteers become donors. That bond gives me great hope because I know that we are a community who is always there for one another in times of need.
If you have not volunteered in our kitchen or by delivering meals, I invite you to join us this year for a first-hand Food & Friends experience. I am grateful to you for supporting our clients in any way you can—packing meals, buying a pie, becoming a monthly donor, generously contributing and so much more.
My first year as Executive Director has been an honor. I’m so thankful to all of the dedicated people around me, and for your partnership in our work. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email at Cstoltzfus@foodandfriends.org.