Project Angel Food, like all organizations and individuals around the world, is daily confronting new obstacles due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. However, thanks to the generosity and goodwill of supporters like you, we have been able to meet every new challenge while continuing to fulfill our mission to prepare and deliver healthy meals to feed people impacted by serious illness, bringing comfort and hope where it is most needed. Further, your support has made it possible for us to purchase and deliver three weeks-worth of additional frozen meals and shelf-stable food items to all of our 1,600 clients.
On March 20th, our client Victor B. who has been on service with us for six years and recently celebrated his 62nd birthday wrote to say, “Wow! I wasn’t even certain there would be a delivery today, which would have been understandable. But there was all the wonderful regular meals and fruit and an abundance of snacks. Each one was so very kind and appreciated. Please know that all of you deliver profound nourishment and spirited sustenance.” Victor’s words could not be more true, YOU are guaranteeing that Project Angel Food can continue to deliver “profound nourishment and spirited sustenance” during these uncertain times. We realize that COVID-19 is affecting everyone financially, so your contributions now are more heartfelt and selfless than ever before.
Project Angel Food is committed to keeping the doors open, volunteers and staff safe, ovens on, deliveries uninterrupted, and clients healthy and fed with nutritious medically tailored meals. We are doing this by staying on top of the latest updates from the CDC and The LA County Department of Public Health and wanted to share with you the actions we’re taking to continue service and the new funding challenges we’re facing as a result.
For the first time in 30 years, Project Angel Food has had to temporarily suspend volunteer service. Ordinarily, each week our volunteers contribute more than 800 hours of labor to our kitchen and office operations, but to minimize the spread of COVID-19, we are asking them to stay home. Their absence is having a very real impact on our capacity and resources as we bring on paid staff to close the gap. We’re beyond grateful to the many volunteers, including Howard K., who showed up to help in the kitchen and offices at the outset of the crisis. He shared with us that volunteering helped him to feel less helpless during these trying times. We can’t wait to welcome you all back, but in the meantime, you can still help realize our mission by sharing with friends, family, and social media our ongoing need for funds to effectively respond to COVID-19. The link to donate is www.angelfood.org/covid19.
IN THE KITCHEN
On March 30th, Kitchen Manager John Gordon and his skeleton crew of paid staff welcomed 5 new chefs to the Project Angel Food kitchen. Their arrival will provide some much-needed relief for staff who have been working extended days and Saturdays to attempt to make up for the countless hours our valued volunteers invest in preparing and packaging meals. We’re thrilled that we were able to offer jobs to a few out-of-work restaurant chefs, but the expense of this additional temporary workforce is one of many that we are actively working to fund. This new workforce is part of our ongoing effort to minimize exposure to our Project Angel Food family. We have always adhered to strict health department guidelines, but we are implementing new protocols including temperature checks, surgical masks, 6 feet of social distancing in the kitchen, and are increasing the frequency of deep cleaning crew visits to our 8,000 square foot kitchen and refrigerated vans.
NUTRITION SERVICES TEAM
Members of our Nutrition Services team have been hard at work developing emergency food kits to meet each client’s complex medical condition. They are also collaborating with the kitchen on nutritionally dense and appropriate substitutions when items are unavailable due to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions. Nutrition Services continues to work closely with the kitchen to screen donations of food items to ensure they are compliant with client food restrictions and preferences. And, to minimize personal and client exposure, team members are conducting assessments and counseling by phone.
ON THE STREETS
Our drivers, who are on the frontlines, are delivering meals to our clients’ doorsteps in surgical masks and gloves, keeping 6-foot social distancing, and practicing a temporary no-touch policy. We are also hiring gig economy workers, whose income has been disrupted by the crisis, to serve as temporary drivers and dispatch employees. Veteran Project Angel Food drivers Bert and Tim are asked every day by our clients whether they will be back with more meals and shelf-stable supplies and clients are visibly relieved when the answer is “yes.” In addition to food, we are also delivering the outpouring of love and support from our community: flowers donated by Flower Commission, homemade cards from volunteers and friends, and hand sanitizers.
Last Friday, our client Deborah called us in tears to thank us for our services. Deborah did not think we would be able to deliver food last week, but we did. She is raising two teenagers and her husband has both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. She said they fall through the cracks of most programs, and we are her safety net. Project Angel Food ensures that they eat. The free medically tailored meals we provide to her, and the breakfast bags for her teenagers, allow her to spend their limited income on other food and necessities. Together, we can offer Deborah and all of our clients some small measure of hope on desperate, lonely days. She pleaded with us to keep delivering and we need your help to do so.
Every day our Client Services team receives 50 – 60 calls from seniors who are food insecure and asking for help. Currently, we have reached our capacity (until we receive more funding), and have had to refer these people in need to Food Banks and Meals on Wheels. We have more kitchen capacity, but our finances have been tapped. This is where you come in, your contribution in any amount will help us defray the costs of the pandemic by contributing directly toward our COVID-19 response. This includes three weeks of emergency meals, health and safety provisions and measures, additional personnel capacity, and home delivery meal operation.
OUR PRIMARY GOAL IS TO CONTINUE OPERATING UNINTERRUPTED AS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC. FOR LIFE. FOR LOVE. FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES. . .