- August 8, 2019
Since taking the helm as Executive Director of Food & Friends this past January, I am continually struck by the strength of our community and the impact of your generosity. Almost every day I meet someone new whose dedication to our clients is awe-inspiring. I’m writing today to personally thank you for your support and share a few updates about the great work you’re making possible.
Let me set the stage. Think about the last time you had a cold, or the flu, and how that impacted you. You felt miserable. You missed a day or two of work, maybe you had enough energy to make some soup and then crawl back into bed. Your life was disrupted. But it was just the flu. Now think about your life if that illness was more severe. Treatment and recovery would take months, not days. Serious illness is scary. It’s life-changing. It impacts every facet of your personal and professional life.
That is why I am so grateful you include Food & Friends in your philanthropy. Through your generosity, Food & Friends provides a community of support and compassion by home-delivering nutritious meals to our neighbors who are sick and in need of extra care. You make it possible for our service eligibility to be based entirely on medical need, not income, not age, or any other factor. This is because when illness strikes, life is unpredictable. You never know who might need a good meal and helping hand.
In March of this year, with your support, Food & Friends expanded its services to provide meals to neighbors living with six additional illnesses—Stage 5 renal disease, congestive heart failure, COPD, multiple sclerosis, ALS and Parkinson’s. These are in addition to those we have historically served, like HIV/AIDS, cancer and diabetes. After careful consultation with the medical community and our peers in the national Food Is Medicine Coalition, and in listening to the needs of our community, we decided that this expansion was the best way to grow in service of our mission—and, most importantly, help more of our neighbors in need to manage their illness.
Additional program accomplishments from earlier this year are detailed in our mid-year impact report, but I’m happy to share that the initial months of this expansion have been overwhelmingly positive. Referrals have increased, particularly for clients with kidney failure, an expected outcome and one we feel particularly suited to handle. Renal conditions commonly affect our HIV/AIDS clients as well, and over the years we’ve created meal plans specifically suited to those dietary needs. You’ve helped make it possible for a broader range of people living with kidney problems to benefit from our years of learning and menu development, improving their health and quality of life.
You may be aware that Food & Friends now receives client referrals not just from hospitals and clinics, but from Medicaid providers. More and more health plans are addressing social determinants of health, including food insecurity, through innovative programs like Food & Friends. Our early results indicate that those who receive our meals experience fewer hospitalizations than they did before receiving Food & Friends.
Over the course of my first year as Executive Director, we’ve been assessing our strategic plan to make sure we’re on the best possible path forward. It’s an exciting time as we continue to plan for the future. I’ll be in touch regularly to report on our progress. Our work to reach new clients, while maintaining our commitment to current clients, is only possible through the power of our community. Your steadfast support and enthusiasm is felt every day as we tackle the challenges at hand. I am so grateful that you choose to join us by supporting our mission.
As we head into the latter half of 2019, I am looking forward to annual traditions like our Slice of Life pie sale and delivering hundreds of Thanksgiving turkeys. But each morning I wake up focused on the people and the daily work of Food & Friends: the client sitting down for a bowl of soup, the volunteer who chopped the carrots or delivered meals, the staff member who answered the phone to speak with a client, the donor who made their annual gift to make all of this possible.
I’m so thankful to all of the dedicated people around me, and for your partnership in our work and mission delivery. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email at Cstoltzfus@foodandfriends.org.
Carrie Stoltzfus, MPH
P.S. I thought you would appreciate this client note we received recently—“Thank you for my birthday cake and the very cool decorated bag! It was a total surprise. And your thoughtfulness blew my mind away. My housemates were thrilled with your birthday thoughtfulness. Please keep up the valuable work that you do. The service has been a lifesaver. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”