Food. Friends. The unspoken thought that joins the two is Love. If you’ve sent an email to me at this site, you may have seen our motto: “Cook Food, but serve Love.” Now I’d like to introduce you to an organization that lives and breathes this sentiment every single day. One meal at a time.
Since last July I’ve been fortunate to volunteer with a local organization that puts love into action as friends provide food for friends they haven’t met, at an organization called simply Food & Friends. As a weekly “Slice and Dice” volunteer at F&F, I’m part of an enthusiastic team of volunteers that prepares, portions, seals and chills fresh meals alongside a team of kitchen professionals — meals that will be delivered along with nutritionally sound grocery items to folks struggling with life-challenging illnesses such as cancer, HIV/AIDS, and multiple sclerosis.
Food & Friends serves over 1400 clients in the DC metro area, some as far as 20 miles from its headquarters near the Fort Totten metro (subway station). Clients are referred to the organization by their physician or social worker. After they meet with one of the staff dietitians and nutritionists, a complete meal plan is developed for them to support their treatment. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a snack or dessert, are provided every day so that meal-planning is one fewer worry for the client and their caregivers to think about during an already stressful period. Even more, if the client is the primary head of household, meals are also provided for every dependent family member.
It’s an incredible mission. And as someone who was the primary caregiver to a person given a cancer diagnosis, I can tell you that this service is a gift of incredible magnitude. My mother was diagnosed with multiforma glioblastoma — a type of brain cancer, in 2005. On top of the dizzying task of struggling to grasp the vocabulary and regimen of cancer treatment, I was also charged with meal-planning for someone I was told would be losing her appetite and with it, critical opportunities for the nutrition and proteins necessary to her successful treatment. I spent hours researching alone on the internet, in between doctor appointments, hospital visits, and clinic and home treatments. It was a frustrating and frightening challenge to comb through the data, look for recipes, and monitor Mom’s changes in appetite, with little or no help from a professional. I would not wish this for anyone. So when I first read about Food & Friends on idealist.org, I knew I had to contribute to its mission.
From the beginning, Food & Friends and its dedicated corps of volunteers have left me humbled and amazed. I’ve met volunteers who were with the organization when it began in a church kitchen — that was in 1988! In fact, when I first started volunteering last summer, one crew member said, “Yay, now I’m not the newest member of the crew any more!” She had been there for 2 years already, but the others were 7-, 10- and 12-year and longer veterans. I now work with a different, though no less dedicated, crew including a crew leader who volunteers for 4 hours every Monday through Thursday. Beginning at 5:15 every morning. In fact, she was the one who had been the “newbie” on the other morning crew.
Do you want in? Do you want to help put the love in between “Food” and “Friend”? Volunteer if you can — yes, of course. But if you can’t slice, dice, pack or make deliveries — sharing the love is still as easy as pie: BUYING PIE, that is.“Slice of Life” is Food & Friends’ annual pre-Thanksgiving fundraiser — here’s how it works. For every pie you purchase, one full day of meals and groceries is available for one client, and you will have one less pie to fuss about for your Thanksgiving table! Or bring a pie to a party, surprise your neighbors or colleagues at work! More pies = more days of meals for a client, and happier guests/hosts/neighbors for you. For $25 you can choose from pumpkin, apple crumb, sweet potato and pecan pie — there’s even an ultra-decadent chocolate cheesecake for a $40 donation. Your pie(s) will be ready for pick-up on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) at one of 22 pick-up sites in the metro DC area that is convenient to you: there are 10 in the District, 6 in Maryland, and 6 in Virginia. Buy your pies by November 19th!Donations to Food & Friends welcome any time!
Buy wait, there’s more. You can join in the love even if you live too far to actually pick up a pie here, or (banish the thought!) you’ve given up carbs… On Thanksgiving Day, a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings will be delivered to every F&F client — you can buy pies and request they be delivered to a client with their meal! Imagine how much sweeter your own pie on Guam or Hawaii, in Germany or Washington, will taste when you sit down with friends and family on Thanksgiving Day, knowing you’re sharing that love with another family as they sit down to their Thanksgiving meal and one more chance to celebrate the holidays together.
Buy a Pie! Or two. And thank you from your 11,000+ new friends at Food & Friends!
Full disclosure: By buying a pie through this site, you will be buying a pie from the daring pie-selling duo, Team Baker Boys, who are Food & Friends pastry chef extraordinaire Tim Devine (R), and gourmet homepâtissier and volunteer Dan Kaufmann (L). A pair of cuties, no? Who wouldn’t want to buy pies from these two? As you might guess, I know them both from the F&F kitchen and have nibbled and gorged on many of their baked goodies in the last 16 months. No, they don’t actually bake the pies for this fundraiser — the F&F kitchens will be occupied churning out whole turkeys for many days before Thanksgiving! It’s all fun and friendly competition among pie-selling teams — nothing but bragging rights are at stake.
C’mon, you know you want to…