Food & Friends Values As Told By Staff

- April 1, 2021

COMPASSION – Thomas Zarembka, Strategic Partnerships Director

“I was drawn to Food & Friends because of the culture of compassion that they have created in the workplace and community.

Over 15 years ago I co-founded an organization that provided a home for HIV-positive men who experienced chronic homelessness. One of our first residents spent most of his adult life incarcerated. We were his first home when he was released. I began to notice that every day around 10 am he would inch his way to the porch swing. I soon realized he was going outside to wait for the Food & Friends volunteer to drop off his food. Conversation and laughter would drift back in the door. This volunteer most likely was one of the resident’s first friendships in decades that was formed outside of an institutional setting. The volunteer was doing much more than delivering food.”


COMMUNITY – Carrie Stoltzfus, Executive Director

“The Food & Friends value that means the most to me is community. This year more than ever I’ve been appreciative of the community that is Food & Friends—our clients, staff, donors, and our volunteers. In what for many of us has been the most isolating year of our lives, Food & Friends was still a place where people could come together to make a difference for each other. Our community really showed its strength this year—our donors and volunteers have enabled us to deliver 100,000 more meals than we had originally planned, and the staff have been resilient and creative in tough times. I’m proud to be one person in this caring, dynamic, powerful community.”


DIGNITY – Becca Kahn, Community Dietitian

“Giving clients choices when they are facing so many things out of their control. I am working with a new client who has ill-fitting dentures but really loves baking whole apples. We discuss the benefits and challenges of the regular meal plan with whole fruit as compared to the soft meal plan with only soft pre-cut fruit. She has multiple health complications and is on a waiting list to receive home health services and is still able to cut and bake an apple the way she likes it. I am glad to help provide food that will both nourish her body and satisfy her desire to prepare a snack for herself from time to time.”


DIVERSITY – Katrina Mathis, Volunteer Services Director

“Each day volunteers stream through Food & Friends’ doors eager to bend their energies in service to others. As Director of Volunteer Services, I am always intrigued by the moving mosaic of high school and college students, young and mid-career professionals and retirees of various races, ethnicities and hues, faiths and mental and physical exceptionalities, who willingly and enthusiastically offer their time and talents to ensure our clients are nourished and fed. Our amazing volunteers bring their multiple talents, capacities and perspectives with them whether preparing food in the kitchen or on the road delivering meals to our clients. Our volunteers’ diversity is a uniting force, one that ultimately brings us together to improve the commonweal.”


Man wearing mask and hat pushes cart full of blue plastic bags - filled with groceries - toward camera. On left-hand side of image, the back door of a Food & Friends van is covered in snow.EXCELLENCE – Rasheed Abdurrahman, Executive Chef

“When I think of Food & Friends and its values the word that always comes to my mind first is Excellence. Food & Friends started in 1988 during the height of the AIDS epidemic. It was our friends, neighbors and family members that came together as a community to care for and provide nourishment to our neighbors in need. For 33 years Food & Friends consistently delivers meals with a smile six days a week, regardless of the weather condition. The love and care that goes into each Food & Friends meal is a testament to the Excellence that Food & Friends provides to our friends in need.
I am fortunate and honored that I have the opportunity to work as the Executive Chef for Food & Friends. My position allows me to use my skills and training to give back to the community and make a difference in many people’s lives. I am always humbled by the many volunteers who share their time and love to help Food & Friends carry out its mission. Thank you all.”


RELIABILITY – Lene Hardy, Culinary Volunteer Coordinator

“At Food & Friends, reliability means keeping the promise to deliver, knowing that simply because things are difficult does not mean they cannot be done. Whether there’s snow on the ground, protestors in the streets, or a pandemic encircling the globe, our clients do not go hungry. This absolute dedication to the simplest of principles has helped Food & Friends reliably exceed the expected.”


ACCOUNTABILITY – Danny Conway, Delivery and Weekend Operations Director

“The Food & Friends value that tops my list would be accountability. Since the beginning, we have held ourselves accountable for the HIV/AIDS community. Making food and taking food to those who find themselves in very unfortunate situations has been the key composite to our success since 1988! The values of accountability were instilled in me early, as I was a young adult who had grown up in Washington DC during the height of the crisis and now able to help those who raised me throughout my growth. I’ve seen so many of my friends bury their mothers due to HIV/AIDS and I always knew that I wanted to be a part of the solution if given the chance. In 2005 I became the Manager of Delivery and I took a personal approach to holding our delivery drivers accountable for each client. We are the face of Food & Friends and it is very important that we represent the organization with honor, respect, and compassion. We must be accountable for delivering hope, one meal at a time and ensure that every client has a “friend” to support them throughout.”

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