October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but what does that have to do with food insecurity? Much more than many of us may think.
Did you know that nearly 1 in 8 American women are diagnosed with breast cancer over a lifetime, and that the associated costs can be financially devastating, leaving one-third of working age cancer survivors in debt and 3% forced to file bankruptcy?
News of a breast cancer diagnosis can pose unique challenges for low income women, with a recent study suggesting they are four times more likely to lose their jobs after diagnosis compared to their high-income peers.
With 31% of Los Angeles County’s population living well below the federal poverty level, those undergoing treatment for breast cancer are often left to choose between their next meal or keeping up with their quickly-accumulating medical bills. They may also forego healthier meals, opting instead for cheaper canned foods that provide little in the form of nutrition.
Project Angel Food’s population is even more food insecure—97% of clients live at or below the federal poverty level.
Through generous ongoing support of the Avon Foundation, we are able to hand-deliver nutritious medically tailored meals to some of the county’s most vulnerable breast cancer residents for absolutely free. Our food is a lifeline to our breast cancer clients who depend on us to recover and manage their illness.
As one our top funders for 13 years, Avon Foundation’s $1,147,295 in contributions has helped Project Angel Food provide 686 breast cancer clients with lifesaving meals since January 2003.
Holding back tears, new client Maria S., upon receiving her first delivery said:
“You are all definitely angels. I thank God for your service. You are really a big help for me at this time.”
Cancer treatments can take a toll on a person’s physical and emotional wellbeing. In a recent study, it was suggested that those with stronger social networks may have better treatment outcomes compared to those who are more isolated. Our delivery drivers are an integral part of our program, arriving with healthy food, warm smiles, and kind words. Because this may be our clients’ only social interaction of the day, we place great emphasis on the client-driver relationship—making sure to shower our clients with special touches on holidays, their birthdays and Mother’s Day.
Take for example, Cecilia, a breast cancer survivor and Project Angel Food success story:
Cecilia M. was 56 and living alone when she was blindsided by Breast Cancer diagnosis. Cecilia became a client of Project Angel Food in February 2016 and quickly came to depend on our nutritious meals. Having no energy to cook after chemotherapy, she sought comfort in our meals and the weekly interactions she had with our driver Bert. During a very low period, Cecilia greatly appreciated the unexpected birthday bag she received from Bert. Moved to tears by our thoughtfulness, Cecilia thanked everyone involved with Project Angel Food and remarked:
“You are delivering more than just food, you also deliver kindness and hope.”
In February 2017, Cecilia called to say she was feeling better and left our program because she was well enough to go back to work.
As we enter our 28 years of service, we are grateful to the Avon Foundation for their enduring, instrumental support in our efforts to restore and sustain our breast cancer clients’ health. On September 10, 2017, we participated in the grant ceremony at the AVON 39 The Walk to End Breast Cancer in Santa Barbara, its 15th annual event series that raised $4.1 million from the 1,600 fierce AVON 39ers who walked with blood, sweat and tears for 39.3 miles to take down breast cancer.
*We also want to thank Susan G. Komen and the Johnny Carson Foundation for helping us provide nourishment to our breast cancer clients. Together support from these foundations have a tremendous impact in fulfilling our mission?bringing hope and comfort to clients struggling with breast cancer during a very difficult time.
#fierceisforever #lifesaving #foodislove #foodismedicine #breastcancer #AVON39