Since that time, Project Angel Heart has also shifted its focus “from providing food as comfort during illness to providing food as medicine.” They have gone on to prepare and deliver 750,000 medically tailored meals annually to more than 5,000 Coloradans with severe illnesses. In December, they’ll mark their 10-millionth meal.
Dietitians and chefs develop medically tailored meals to target a range of needs and even incorporate culturally significant flavors. “While many programs address hunger, we specifically look at nutrition to address illness,” Adams notes.
The individual impact of food for better outcomes
“Food is medicine” began as “a kooky California idea,” says Project Angel Food Director of Institutional Giving and Strategic Partnerships Mindy Glazer. It’s now been proven that access to nutritious foods can lead to less patient stress, fewer hospital readmissions, lower healthcare costs and better health outcomes.
To these two grant recipients, food is medicine means even more than that. “One of our mottos is ‘for life, for love, for as long as it takes,’” Glazer says. “We’re coming face to face with the people we serve, and you notice things going on and can connect them with other resources to get them help,” she explains.
“At the core of what we do, it’s showing up, letting someone know that we care, delivering them a meal that’s actually going to help them feel better,” says Project Angel Food Director of Communications and Talent Relations Brad Bessey, who was also one of the original volunteers. While the number of meals served is impressive, Bessey says it’s about each individual. “We’re making sure that we’re meeting those dietary needs. And then we’re making sure that we’re making that human connection.”
Bessey recalls a client named Luke whose doctor told him that he’d be on dialysis, but Project Angel Food’s meals changed his trajectory so much so that dialysis is no longer inevitable; and Madeline who has had two strokes and is unable to get out of her house and the only contact she has with others every day is her Project Angel Food delivery.