Custom: Food Friends Header

Media and News Center
Get Involved
Who We Serve
What We Do
Who We Are

Subscribe to the Blog

July 15, 2014

Meet Crystal and her Family - A Message from Chef Mark

Today, I’d like you to meet Crystal and her family so you can learn more about her story and how you can help people in similar situations.

When Crystal first became ill with breast cancer last year, she was too fatigued by radiation treatments to make dinner for herself and her children. Not only were Crystal and her family missing out on their important family mealtime ritual, but Crystal became concerned that she would no longer be able to feed her kids at all.

That’s where you came in. Thanks to the generous support of people like you, we were able to step in and make sure Crystal’s children could still look forward to their favorite meals each night.

“The dinners are great and nutritious,” says Crystal. “It’s convenient and easy for me, especially dinner. I just microwave the meals if I want my kids to have a cooked meal.”

As you know, there are many people in our community who have challenges similar to Crystal’s, and they need your help today. It’s hard to care for others when they themselves are ill. 

At Food & Friends, we’re proud to make transformational change in the lives of people who are fighting life-challenging illnesses like cancer and HIV/AIDS. And we’re proud to have you with us.

You may have heard that we need to raise $100,000 in the days and weeks to come to sustain us through the tough, hot summer months, when donations slow down and our clients need extra attention. We’re counting on you to help – will you join us today?

Let’s make sure we can always say “Yes!” to neighbors in need, like Crystal and her family. Please join in support of ourSummer Food Fund campaign today.

In Gratitude,

Mark Locraft
Executive Chef

P.S. Your tax-deductible contribution to our Summer Food Fund campaign will help reach our goal of raising $100,000 to sustain us through the tough, hot summer months, money we’ll use to support Crystal and more than 3,000 clients like her this year.

July 1, 2014

Ready for Mother Nature: New Emergency Generator Installed

Clients rely on us for 3 meals a day, six days a week—for many we are their only source of food. We have promised to never miss a delivery no matter how severe the weather conditions, and have proudly been able to keep this commitment for 25 years. But, as we grow and serve more people, it’s getting harder. So, this spring, we took a huge step toward maintaining this record by purchasing and installing a commercial grade, natural gas-powered emergency generator.

Thanks to a $155,000 bond bill from the State of Maryland sponsored by State Senator Richard Madaleno and State Delegate Heather Mizeur, and $155,000 in generous gifts from The Cafritz Foundation, Fleur Bresler, the Offices of Prince George’s County Councilmembers Mary A. Lehman and Andrea C. Harrison, and the Meyer Foundation, our new generator will enable us to continue meeting the needs of hundreds of children and adults facing life-challenging illnesses.

Depending on the duration, the consequences of a power outage could be crippling to our operations. Food safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to providing healthy and nutritious meals for clients with compromised immune systems. Should a significant, long-term power outage occur, the new generator will be activated in order to prevent food stored at our facility from spoiling and being exposed to harmful bacteria.

The generator will also run the building’s air conditioning, heating, and lighting, allowing staff and volunteers to continue working to prepare and provide scheduled meal deliveries.

The extraordinary demonstrations of generosity from the aforementioned supporters will have a lasting impact on the lives of an extremely vulnerable population.

New Client Menu to Showcase Plant-Based Meals, Enhanced Breakfast Options and Whole Grains

Good nutrition is critical in helping clients feel better, manage their illness and cope with the side effects from harsh treatments and medications. We stress variety and flavor in every meal because appetites tend to be suppressed by illness, and even the best food is only good when eaten.

One way we add variety is by changing up our menu. Our Freshly-Prepared Meals Program follows a 6-week menu cycle—each cycle extends over a six-month period and menu items are only repeated four to five times.

We recently launched our new menu which is dishing up more plant-based meals, enhanced breakfast options and whole grains.

Plant-Based Meals

We are constantly working to offer more fresh fruits and vegetables to clients. Focusing on inclusion of deeply colored fruits, vegetables and whole grains ensures a nutrient-dense diet protective against heart disease, cancer and diabetes. On this new menu, we offer fresh spinach salads, baked vegetables with soy pasta, butternut squash ravioli and chickpea pesto with tomatoes and mushrooms—just to name a few. For our clients, these plant-based meals allow for better support of their immune systems, and give the ability to fight off infections by providing adequate amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals.

Enhanced Breakfast Options

We are starting the day out right by providing breakfast items that are denser in vitamins and minerals and more nutritionally balanced. Our clients will start seeing more protein items like dairy, eggs and peanut butter. A robust breakfast helps with focus throughout the day, improving overall energy levels, as well as maintaining a healthy weight.

Whole and Ancient Grains

Whole and ancient grains are taking the spotlight during lunch in this menu cycle. Whole grains are protective against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and promote overall gut health. The ancient grains we offer on the menu, such as wheatberries or quinoa, provide additional value by adding protein to the meal. Because whole grains are high in fiber, these enable our clients to keep their cholesterol levels in check. For example, many HIV/AIDS medications can cause dyslipidemia or imbalanced blood fats. Routine fiber consumption prevents digestion of all fats thereby improving cholesterol and overall lipid levels.

Community Partnership to Launch New Diabetes Pilot

Project to Measure Effects of Our Nutrition Services on Diabetics

Chronic illnesses take a terrible toll on individuals and families, on the healthcare system, and on our economy. We have been on the front lines in the fight against one such illness, HIV/AIDS, for more than a quarter century. Now, another chronic illness is having a similarly devastating impact on the Washington, DC, area. Diabetes was recently noted as the 6th leading cause of death in the District. According to the DC Department of Health, 8.3% of the District’s population report having been diagnosed with diabetes.

For those with diabetes, proper nutrition is a key weapon in battling the challenges associated with their illness. Consistent access to healthy food can play a powerful role in preventing and treating diabetes and its secondary problems such as heart failure, amputation, or kidney failure.

With this in mind, Food & Friends, in partnership with GW Medical Faculty Associates and the Rodham Institute, will be executing a pilot program called Alliance for Nutrition in Health and Disease to measure the effects of our services on the health outcomes of individuals with poorly-managed diabetes.

Through the Alliance for Nutrition in Health and Disease pilot program, 100 adult patients with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes will be enrolled in our Freshly-Prepared Meals Program. They will receive nutritious and home-delivered meals specifically tailored for diabetics—breakfast, lunch and dinner—six days per week, for 15 months, along with nutrition counseling from our registered dietitians.

This pilot will rely on the chronic illness and evaluation expertise of clinicians and researchers at the George Washington University Heart & Vascular Institute (GWU HVI) and Rodham Institute. GWU HVI will refer diabetic patients who have complications indicating poorly-managed diabetes. GWU HVI will also collect patient health data both before and after the project to measure the impact of healthy eating and nutrition education on these individuals.

The results of the pilot study will be used to determine whether Food & Friends should permanently extend services to those whose primary illness is diabetes. Positive results will also be used to advocate for the importance of our services in improving health outcomes for individuals with all life-challenging illnesses.

We are currently securing funding to support this pilot program. The estimated cost of the 15-month program is $380,000. As we look towards improving health outcomes of people living with critical illnesses in our community, we hope you will consider supporting our strategic partnership to improve the health of DC area residents living with life-threatening chronic diabetes. If you are interested in supporting this initiative, either as an individual or as a company, contact Daniell Griffin at or (202) 269-6870.

June 23, 2014

THANK YOU NBC4 Bike Team for Riding for Our Clients

On Sunday, members of the NBC4 family rode 34 miles - from Roosevelt Island to Mt. Vernon and back - to support those in our community facing HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses.

The NBC4 riders, including NBC4 president and general manager Jackie Bradford, anchors Doreen Gentzler and Wendy Rieger, and reporter Steve Handelsman, braved the heat and raised more than $14,500 to support our mission. It was a reunion ride of sorts for the NBC4 bike team that participated in the AIDSRides from 1996 to 2002. 
"NBC4 was instrumental in putting Food & Friends “on the map” at a time when we were less known. Your station’s abiding interest in our work is proof that television journalism can stick with an important story over a long period of time. We’re vastly larger today than when we were founded but still live every day with a sense of gratitude for of our opportunity to serve. Our greatest opportunities are just down the road and around the next curve. Every day is an adventure."
-Craig Shniderman, Executive Director

At Food & Friends, we’re on a journey to create a community caring for those living with life-challenging illnesses. Thank you NBC4 - your support and compassion keep us moving forward.

May 30, 2014

Stay Safe: 5 Summer Food Safety Tips

With the summer quickly approaching, the time is right to review food safety tips. During warm weather, it is especially important to practice safe food handling when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products. The warmer conditions may be ideal for picnics and barbecues, but they also provide an ideal environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. Follow these 5 summer food safety tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reduce the risk of foodborne illness this summer.

From the Store to Your Home
To guard against cross-contamination — which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food — put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags. Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. Refrigerate within 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.

Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Poultry and cubed meat or stew meat can be marinated up to 2 days. Beef, veal, pork and lamb roasts, chops, and steaks may be marinated up to 5 days. If the marinade used on raw meat or poultry is to be reused, make sure to let it come to a boil first to destroy any harmful bacteria.

When carrying food to another location, keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 °F or below. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home.

Precooking food partially in the microwave, oven, or stove is a good way of reducing grilling time. Just make sure that the food goes immediately on the preheated grill to complete cooking.

Cook Thoroughly
Cook food to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy harmful bacteria. Meat and poultry cooked on a grill often browns very fast on the outside. Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.

For more information regarding food safety, check out the USDA’s website:

May 12, 2014

A Message from Chef's Best Presenting Sponsor Walmart

Dear Food & Friends Supporters:

It is with great enthusiasm that Walmart serves as the Presenting Sponsor for Food & Friends’ 24th Annual Chef’s Best Dinner & Auction. Our partnership with Food & Friends started nearly a decade ago and continues to grow as a result of their commitment and proven impact on individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and other life-challenging illnesses.

Since its inception, Food & Friends has delivered a staggering 17 million fresh meals to over 25,000 clients throughout the greater Washington area. Annually, they serve 3,000 individuals and their families with healthy food and nutrition counseling. We encourage you to join the community of supporters who enables Food & Friends to deliver fresh meals, groceries, and hope to our neighbors who need it most.

Every day, across the country, people are struggling to put food on their tables. Walmart is in a unique position to make a major impact. In 2010, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation launched "Fighting Hunger Together," a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment to fight hunger in America. This initiative leverages Walmart's reach and resources to alleviate and elevate the issues of hunger and healthy eating at a national level.

As a community partner, Walmart is proud to create and sustain partnerships with organizations that go above and beyond to meet the community’s needs. In the words of Sam Walton, “We’re all working together; that’s the secret.”

Thank you so much for coming and have a wonderful evening!

Nina Albert
Director of Community Affairs, Walmart

May 5, 2014

All Your Favorite Chefs in One Place!

Your Taste Buds Will Thank You

Don't miss out on one of the hottest food events this year. On May 13th, 50 of your favorite chefs will provide tastings of delicious cuisine at our 24th Annual Chef's Best Dinner & Auction presented by Walmart.

On May 13th, 50 of the area's best chefs will be providing samples
of delicious culinary creations at the Washington Hilton
Join us for Chef's Best at the Washington Hilton to celebrate all you have made possible and to ensure that thousands continue to receive the nutritional care so vital to their health and well-being. We couldn't be more excited to celebrate a phenomenal evening of food, fun and philanthropy with you.

Can't join us? Buy a Golden Ticket and you could win a 5-night stay at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort in the Cayman Islands and a $1,000 US Airways gift card! Tickets are $100. Only 150 tickets will be sold!

May 1, 2014

Modern Day Superwoman - Your Support Gives Denise Strength, Energy and Hope

Denise’s reality is one that can only compare to a modern day superhero. Her story is rare, and leaves most of us questioning, “How does she do it?”

"It was helpful at least to know
that my kids had something."
In 2010, after purchasing a home, Denise became sick. To make matters worse, she lost her job that August. By October of 2010, Denise was diagnosed with a blood disease that required her to undergo harsh chemotherapy treatments.

Eventually, her pricey doctor appointments soon replaced her budget for groceries, forcing Denise to rely on a limited amount of food stamps. With four children, graduate school courses, frequent hospital visits and a lack of income, food was a major hurdle in Denise’s life. In time, the southern-style meals that Denise loved to cook for her kids slowly stopped making their way to the dinner table. Her daughter, a teenager at the time, became her nurse and prepared meals to ensure her mother received adequate nutrition.

“At the time, I couldn’t be out around other people,” says Denise. “I had to send my kids to the grocery store and they weren’t used to getting food on their own.”

With the help of a social worker at Georgetown Medical Center, Denise was connected to Food & Friends after she began chemotherapy.

“Between 2010 and 2011, I was in the hospital for at least 10 months. But Food & Friends really helped me because I wasn’t home. It was helpful at least to know that my kids had something.”

For the past four years, Food & Friends has come to Denise’s aid during times when she needed it most. She recalls the volunteers who she says are always in good spirits – they kept her smiling and hopeful throughout her struggle.

Now that she is recovering slowly, Denise is getting back into the kitchen where she says “southern food with a kick” is her specialty. With groceries no longer being an obstacle, Denise enjoys preparing food for her kids, even if it simply involves heating up a Food & Friends dinner. 

Four years after her diagnosis, Denise is becoming reacquainted with her neighborhood. The mother of four is now searching for a new job, still attending Catholic University, and even takes cooking classes at Food & Friends’ facility. With the help of our frequent meal deliveries, Denise continues to inspire us with her phenomenal story.