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May 4, 2016

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer to be presented with Food & Friends’ Public Servant “Spirit of Caring” Award

Monday, May, 23, 2016 at Chef’s Best: A Taste of Compassion
National Building Museum, Washington, DC 

Food & Friends is honored to present U.S. Congressman Steny Hoyer (D), representing the 5th Congressional district of Maryland, with the first annual Public Servant, Spirit of Caring” award. The award will be presented at Food & Friends’ signature event Chef’s Best: A Taste of Compassion presented by AT&T, held on May 23 at the National Building Museum.

The Public Servant “Spirit of Caring” award was established by Food & Friends to honor an elected or other public official for their exemplary leadership in furthering proposals and programs that promote the well-being of all citizens on such issues as: health care, food and nutrition services, or support for those living with HIV/AIDS, cancer or other life-challenging illnesses in their community.

Mr. Hoyer was first elected to Congress in 1981 and is currently the second-ranking figure in House Democratic Leadership.  Representing the 5th Congressional district of Maryland, Congressman Hoyer has been a stalwart champion for thousands of Food & Friends clients and is a proponent of LGBTQ rights. Through his leadership in public office, sponsorship of relevant legislation, and his personal experience with family life-challenging illnesses, Mr. Hoyer has demonstrated a strong and constant commitment to fight for accessibility to health care. 

In 2015, Food & Friends served 2700 clients with 1,016,622 total home delivered meals, with an average of 3,258 meals per day. Food & Friends serves four counties within Rep. Hoyer’s district: Calvert, Charles, St. Mary’s, and Prince George’s counties, reaching 232 clients in 2015 with over 80,000 meals.

Food & Friends’ current client demographics in snapshot:  
·         - 35%  HIV/AIDS / 45%  cancer  / 20%  other  serious illness
·         -  Washington DC  53%   / Maryland  37%   / Virginia 10%

As Food & Friends continues its advocacy efforts to improve the health, nutrition and social isolation of people living with life-challenging illnesses, it is vital to build bridges with concerned policy makers of every political party that promote the mission of Food & Friends.

The mission of Food & Friends is to foster a community of caring for men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses by preparing and delivering medically specialized meals and groceries in conjunction with nutrition counseling.

April 18, 2016

Food & Friends Board Member Chris Wolf to be Honored at Chef's Best May 23

Since 1994, Chris Wolf has been at the forefront of advancing Food & Friends’ mission. His leadership has led us from the basement of a church to our current 25,000 square foot facility, and from serving only those living with HIV/AIDS to including individuals who are nutritionally at risk due to cancer and other illnesses.

With Chris’ support we changed our delivery schedule to reach more people, added Groceries-to-Go
so we could support the needs of people living outside the beltway, built a strong Board of Directors, and launched the Silver Platter Award to recognize staff that go above and beyond to support our clients.

Through his board leadership, personal support, and efforts to engage many in his vast network, Chris has made a direct impact on the lives of thousands of critically ill children and adults throughout the Washington Metropolitan Area.

For this and so much more, we are proud and honored to present Chris Wolf with the Compassion in Action Award at the 2016 Chef’s Best on Monday May 23, at the National Building Museum. Chef’s Best is one of Washington’s premier nights of philanthropy. As a guest, you can delight in tasting portions from 40 of the region’s best chefs and, as you wine and dine, you’ll have the opportunity to bid on incredible trips, dining experiences, art, and much more. This year’s goal is to raise $1 million! Find out more at

The Chris Wolf Tribute Fund
In honor of Chris’ unwavering commitment to Food & Friends, our Board of Directors is establishing “The Chris Wolf Tribute Fund.” Our goal is to raise $250,000 for this fund through this year’s Chef’s Best. The Fund will provide our chefs with state-of-the-art kitchen tools, expand services to people with diabetes, and maintain our fleet of service vehicles.

You can contribute to the Chris Wolf Tribute Fund here.

April 5, 2016

Make Your Reservation on April 28, 2016 - Dine Out for Life!

Fun, Friendship, and Fundraising for Food & Friends

It’s hard to believe, but this is the 20th year of Dining Out for Life, a national event founded to
provide support for the 1 out of every 10 people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. Food & Friends has enthusiastically participated every year since 1996, soon after the event was founded. In 2015, in 35 cities across the country, 3,057 restaurants participated and raised $4.23 million for HIV/AIDS local services.

It’s a great concept: gather up your friends and family, pick a restaurant that’s participating, have a great meal there together, and part of your bill will be donated to Food & Friends. And you and your friends will have a chance to donate directly to Food & Friends at the end of the evening.

“Dining Out for Life is an opportunity for the larger Food & Friends family to help us and have a lot of fun with their friends at the same time,” said Craig Shniderman, Executive Director of Food & Friends. “Whether you’re a supporter, a volunteer, or just a fan of the work we do, Dining Out for Life is a great way to help us help our neighbors throughout the DC region.”

This year’s local goal is $150,000 that will support nutrition services for our 945 clients living with and battling HIV/AIDS (about 35 percent of all Food & Friends clients).

So how can you take part in Dining Out for Life? It’s easy.

Step 1: Save the date! Dining Out for Life is Thursday, April 28.

Step 2: Pick a restaurant. The most current list of participating restaurants is on the Dining Out for Life website: We have participants throughout the DC metropolitan area, featuring every type of cuisine, and ranging from high end restaurants to local diners.

Step 3: Make a reservation and tell them you’re coming for Dining Out for Life. You can make reservations through Open Table or by contacting the restaurant of your choice directly. Make sure to tell them you’re coming for Dining Out for Life!

Step 4: Call, e-mail, text, or Facebook invite your posse. This is a chance to have some fun for a good cause! Pull your group together for a night out. You’ll have a good time and you’ll be able to tell them more about the mission of Food & Friends!

Step 5: Have fun! It’s you and your friends out on the town, enjoying great food, and helping to provide meals to people with serious illnesses. How can that NOT be
a good time?

Step 6: Step up and make an additional contribution. You’ll have the chance to make an additional contribution to Food & Friends through a donation envelope on your table. If each of your group drops a few bucks in, you’ve grown your contribution. And you’ll be entered into a raffle for 25,000 American Airlines miles!

There you go! It’s that easy to mix fun and fundraising.

We can’t wait to see you and your friends on Thursday, April 28!

Spring Breakers Bring Curiosity and Energy to Food & Friends

Springtime means spring break for students across the country, and for Food & Friends, it means fantastic groups of student volunteers! This year we had 15 different spring break groups representing a wide range of schools and student organizations. The unifying factor? The desire to learn about the challenges facing our communities and how they, as future leaders, can make a positive impact. 

Students from around the world through American Councils
We were particularly excited to host the American Councils for International Education, an exchange organization that brings students from around the world to live in the U.S. for a year of learning both in and out of the classroom. The students who visited us came from all over, including Indonesia, Cameroon, Moldova, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, and the Philippines. While many of their countries have been war torn, the students had come to the U.S. with the goal of learning community service-based lessons that they could bring back to their home nations.  

Closer to home, a group from Georgetown University’s Alternative Break focused on the themes of hunger, homelessness, and intersecting issues in and around DC. They sought out Food & Friends for first hand insight into how health and illness factor in these broader problems.

Students from NYU volunteered with us all week!
Each student group’s volunteer experience is unique and tailored to their needs and interests. Some of our groups this year made a sustained commitment by working with us for the entire week, such as New York University’s LGBTQ Student Group and SUNY Purchase College. Others, like those from East Tennessee State, DePaul University, and High Point University, drove over 9 hours in school vans to participate in a variety of community service opportunities in our nation’s capital, including here at Food & Friends. The Ohio State “Buck-I-Serve” group comes every year for spring and winter break, and we were happy to welcome them back again this year!

The Food & Friends Service Learning Program allows students to gain valuable knowledge and see, first-hand, how their service impacts the lives of children and adults facing life-challenging illnesses as well as gain important perspective on issues such as HIV/AIDS and nutrition. If you like to learn more about bringing a student group to Food & Friends, go HERE!

March 21, 2016

Healing with Family: Chef Matt Steiner Says Food & Friends Helped His Stroke Recovery

Chef Matt Steiner walks back and forth at a brisk pace through the kitchen and Expediting (the area where meals are packaged and prepared for home delivery). It’s been a busy day at Food & Friends and he’s wrapping up the last of the day’s volunteers.

Anyone who sees him today would have no idea that, just five years ago, Matt was re-learning how to walk and regain many of his motor skills after a major stroke.
Chef Matt Steiner in the Food & Friends kitchen

“In June of 2011, I had a major stroke,” said Matt. “I had to have open heart surgery and I had a large part of the muscle from my right leg removed. Between the surgeries and physical therapy, I was in the hospital for about six to seven weeks. I also found out during this time that I’m HIV-positive.”

Matt had to start over on a number of fronts. He had to learn to walk again. He couldn’t drive. His speech and other motor skills were impaired.

“I still have a slight stutter,” said Matt. “It’s not as bad here. I’m more comfortable speaking here so it doesn’t bother me as much.”

As part of his recovery, Matt decided to be a volunteer chef at Food & Friends.

“My mom found Food & Friends,” said Matt. “It was her idea to volunteer here to get me out of the house and be more active. If it hadn’t been for her, I would probably be a client of Food & Friends today.”

Matt started on Friday shifts with his mom and his daughter. The short shifts he started with allowed him to walk around and rehabilitate his leg. He also found a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere that would help to quicken his recovery.

“It really is like a family here,” said Matt. “I knew, working as a chef in other places, that I would never find this atmosphere anywhere else. Everyone, from the staff to the volunteers, is so friendly and supportive. And there is much less stress here than I’ve found working in restaurants. It really was ideal for me.”

Matt was hired as on-call chef in September of 2014. One year later, he was hired full time. But this job means more to him than just a paycheck.

“I would do this job even without pay,” said Matt. “Doing what I do means a lot to me. I have friends who are clients and friends who are volunteers so I take this job personally.”

It’s been a long road to recovery for Matt. And he credits Food & Friends with helping him recover faster.

“My recovery would have been a lot slower without Food & Friends,” said Matt. “Being here, getting to walk around a lot, interacting with different people and different personalities, and how nice everyone is – that made a big difference in my recovery.”

February 29, 2016

Take Time to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right: March is National Nutrition Month!

Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics celebrates National Nutrition Month. As a month-long celebration of food and nutrition, National Nutrition Month aims to get people thinking about making informed food choices that will benefit their health.

Each year the Academy selects a fun nutrition-related theme to set the tone for National Nutrition Month. This year’s theme, “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” encourages everyone to take time to appreciate the pleasures, great flavors, and social experiences food can add to their lives. We all have our own unique and meaningful food traditions. National Nutrition Month is a great time to pause and take a moment to ensure we are embracing those traditions fully and enjoying delicious foods that nourish our bodies and lives. 

Eating right starts with making healthy choices most of the time. Whether you are a nutrition-newbie or a seasoned veteran, taking time to periodically reassess your eating patterns is a great habit to develop. You can use the “rate your plate” activity on the next page to quickly assess your own eating patterns and healthy habits. Usually we all have a few areas that we can improve upon!

There are some simple ways to improve your eating pattern that provide maximal health benefits. You can start by adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, choosing whole grains instead of refined grains, and avoiding foods that are high in added sugar, salt or saturated fats like butter or processed meats. Choosing healthier beverages like water and low-fat milk more often and limiting sugary beverages like juices and sodas reduces added sugars and empty calories. Take advantage of the health benefits of a plant-based diet and try out a couple of meatless meals per week, or swap the meat for seafood (consumption of at least 8 oz of seafood per week is recommended to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease). Making a meal plan each week and sticking to it can help keep your healthy patterns on track, save you money and reduce food waste.

Once you’ve built your healthy foundation by mastering the above tips, you may want to kick it up a notch by adding more flavor to your meals in a healthy way. This can make mealtime even more enjoyable for you and keep healthy eating fresh and exciting. There are many things you can do to add extra flavor to meals without adding sugar, salt or fat. Try using fresh herbs to add a punch of flavor to dishes, or add a tangy taste with citrus juice (lemon, lime, orange) or vinegars. Use aromatic ingredients generously (like onion, garlic, fresh ginger, shallots and chili peppers) to take dishes to the next level. Grilling or roasting vegetables at high heat can give them a sweet, smoky and irresistible flavor. Be adventurous and try new-to-you ingredients and recipes!

Finally, truly savoring your mealtimes can help you stick with your healthy eating habits and promote a positive relationship with food that can last a lifetime. Investing a bit of time into learning to cook your meals at home reaps long-term benefits. Many people find the reward of sitting down to a meal they’ve taken time to prepare brings a sense of satisfaction and pride, and home-cooked meals are almost always healthier than store-bought prepared foods or restaurant meals. Cooking may even become a relaxing and fun hobby once you get the hang of it!

Savoring mealtimes also means enjoying your food in the company of others as often as possible. Making family meal time a fun ritual provides an opportunity to connect with your loved ones on a regular basis. Avoiding distractions while you eat by doing things like putting your phone away and turning off the television gives you the opportunity to appreciate your meals.

So this March, remember to slow down and take a moment to assess your eating patterns and healthy habits. Is there room for improvement? What simple steps can you take to help yourself truly savor the flavor of eating right? Happy National Nutrition Month from the dietitians here at Food and Friends!

RATE YOUR PLATE- from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Do you:
Most days
Consider nutrition when making food choices?
Avoid skipping meals?
Include 3 or more whole-grain foods daily?
Eat at least 2 ½ cups of veggies daily?
Vary veggies with dark green and orange varieties?
Eat at least 2 cups of fruit daily?
Get 3 cups of low-fat or fat-free milk or yogurt daily?
Choose lean meats and poultry?
Vary protein choices with more fish, beans and nuts?
Limit added sugars, salt and solid fats?

Now add up your points to get your total score and see your results below:

16 – 20 points:
Healthy eating seems to be your habit already!
10 – 15 points:
You’re on track. A few easy changes will make your total eating plan healthier.
0 – 9 points:
Sometimes you may eat smart. For good health, add more smart choices to your eating plan.