Washington-Based Food & Friends Program Expands Outreach of Meals Delivery Through RWJF Faith in Action Initiative
From July 2001 until January 2004, staff of the Washington, D.C.-based Food & Friends recruited, trained and deployed volunteers to prepare and deliver food to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, dementia and other life-challenging illnesses.
In 2003, the agency expanded its program to include children who were either seriously ill or whose parents were too ill to prepare meals.
The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Faith in Action, Replication of the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Program.
- From July 2001 through 2003, the Faith in Action component of Food & Friends worked with 900 volunteers to prepare and deliver food to almost 5,000 people with life-challenging illnesses.
- From February 2003 to January 2004, Food & Friends staff and volunteers delivered 182,000 meals to more than 500 children.
RWJF provided two unsolicited grants to the organization: ID# 042296 for $35,000 as part of the national program, and ID# 047478 for $11,000 in additional support outside of the program.
Families with a seriously ill member may have limited ability to shop for groceries and prepare healthy meals. To address their needs, Food & Friends began in 1988 as a group of 20 volunteers working with 21 restaurants to deliver meals to people with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses.
By the time RWJF made its first grant to Food & Friends in 2001, the agency had an annual budget of $5.1 million and had expanded to serve 1,350 people in a 6,300-square-mile area in Washington, D.C., and 14 Maryland and Virginia counties.
In addition to its meal program, Food & Friends delivers groceries to families in need, provides nutrition education and offers "enhancements," such as microwaves, grocery vouchers and birthday cakes.
A coalition of churches and service organizations, which had 20 members at the time of the first grant, provides direction and oversight to Food & Friends and helps to promote outreach. (See Appendix 1 for a list of coalition members.)
The idea of helping a neighbor in need is deeply rooted in the world's major faiths, and many congregations provide some level of caregiving. However, often these efforts are on a small scale, poorly organized and not well promoted.
RWJF began its funding of interfaith volunteer caregiving in 1983, with a national demonstration program, the Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers Program. The Faith in Action® program grew out of this initiative in 1993.
The program seeks to encourage congregations representing various faiths in a community to come together, hire a paid director and establish a single, community-wide program that provides non-medical assistance through volunteers drawn largely from participating congregations.
For a full description of the program's history and activities, see Grant Results on Faith in Action.
Staff at Food & Friends used the first RWJF grant (ID# 042296) to reach more people with its meals program and to continue recruiting volunteers, each of whom received 90 minutes of training.
Staff also produced the Interfaith Newsletter three times a year and held an annual Food & Faith Day to introduce the organization to new contacts and to honor the volunteers.
Staff used funds from the second RWJF grant (ID# 047478) to create the Family Service program. This paid for food and the packaging of meals specifically for children who were either seriously ill or whose parents were too ill to prepare meals.
For additional funders, see Appendix 2.
- From July 2001 through 2003, the Faith in Action component of Food & Friends worked with 900 volunteers to prepare and deliver food to almost 5,000 people. The population served had HIV/AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, other life-challenging illnesses or was frail or elderly.
- Project staff added two new drop-off sites, where volunteers could pick up meals to be delivered to care recipients.
- Under the Family Service program, Food & Friends staff and volunteers delivered 182,000 meals to more than 500 children. About 80 percent of the children were not ill themselves, but were in families being served by Food & Friends.
A Letter of Thanks
Food & Friends staff received this letter from a care recipient:
I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of you for the deliveries of well-planned meals. Your chef is creative to say the least for instance, that sausage soufflé!
Your volunteers lift my spirits. I don't accept that I'm terminal real easily. It was too drastic and out of the blue when you feel after four and a half years that you're winning the battle! Also, having been super, super active, six months of bed, wheelchair and doctors is tough to take. My major outlet is TV and videos a far cry from my former life.
Thank you all
AFTER THE GRANT
Using almost 2,000 volunteers, Food & Friends served about 2,070 clients in 2005; some 400 were children. Thirty churches and service organizations are coalition members. The Family Service program is now an integral part of agency services.
In 2005, Food & Friends moved into a new $8.7 million facility in northwest Washington, giving it the capacity to serve 3,000 clients. The organization expanded its services to include HIV-positive women, in the past it had served only women diagnosed with AIDS.
GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION
Expanding a Program to Provide Home-Delivered Nutritional Meals and Groceries for Families Living With Life-Challenging Illnesses
Food & Friends (Washington, DC)
- Faith in Action
Amount: $ 35,000
Dates: July 2001 to December 2003
Dates: February 2003 to January 2004
Food & Friends Coalition Members
- Center for Student Missions (Cheverly, Md.)
- Church Association of Community Services (Washington, D.C.)
- Church of the Nativity (Washington, D.C.)
- Congregation Bet Mishpachah (Washington, D.C.)
- D.C. Catholic AIDS Network (Washington, D.C.)
- Downtown Cluster of Congregations (Washington, D.C.)
- Falls Church Presbyterian Church (Falls Church, Va.)
- Foundry United Methodist Church (Washington, D.C.)
- Holy Redeemer MCC (College Park, Md.)
- Greater Mount Nebo A.M.E. Church (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
- Metropolitan Baptist Church (Washington, D.C.)
- Metropolitan Community Church (Washington, D.C.)
- National City Christian Church (Washington, D.C.)
- Rockville United Church (Rockville, Md.)
- St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church (Hyattsville, Md.)
- Shiloh Baptist Church (Washington, D.C.)
- St. Augustine Catholic Church (Washington, D.C.)
- St. Columba's Episcopal Church (Washington, D.C.)
- St. Mark's Episcopal Church (Washington, D.C.)
- Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart (Washington, D.C.)
Grant ID# 042296 (July 2001 through December 2003)
- Altria Group, $150,000
- Avon Foundation, an average of $200,000 per year
- Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, $25,000
- William Randolph Hearst Foundations, $50,000
Grant ID# 047478 (February 2003 to January 2004)
- Mead Family Foundation, $36,000
- William Randolph Hearst Foundations, $80,000
Report prepared by: Nanci Healy
Report prepared by: Robert Crum
Reviewed by: Karyn Feiden
Reviewed by: Janet Heroux
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Judith S. Stavisky
Program Officer: Lori Grubstein
Program Officer: Michael McGinnis