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August 20, 2014

Let Them Eat Cake - Join Us for Marie Antoinette

Join us for An Evening of Theatre to Benefit Food & Friends

On October 8th, we will take over Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company for a production of Marie Antoinette to raise critical funds for our services. We hope you'll join us! 

Written by award-winning playwright, David Adjmi, the question of whether Marie Antoinette was a shallow, rich party girl, or a tragic figure constructed by a culture of luxury and celebrity is finally answered. Sit back as history’s most notorious queen realizes too late that there’s an unstoppable revolution brewing outside her window.

Sponsorships are available now beginning at $600. As a sponsor, you and your guests will indulge in pre-show cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and a special treat in the lobby!

Tickets will go fast so reserve your seats now!

We look forward to spending a memorable evening with you. If you have any questions, please contact or call (202) 269-6893.

August 5, 2014

Random Acts of Flowers: Sweet Virginia Donates Flowers to Clients

Sweet Virginia Foundation, a honeybee conservation and education organization, is sharing nature's most colorful gift with our clients who could use a dose of cheer.

Every other week, Sweet Virginia donates beautiful flowers from their cutting garden in Northern Virginia to be delivered with our meals. Each delivery includes flowers ranging from bright yellow sunflowers to vibrant dahlias and zinnias.

Dan Price, executive director of Sweet Virginia Foundation, explains that flowers are a simple way to share love with people, even if they are complete strangers: "There is a lot of love that happens around bees and a flower garden. We didn't want these flowers to go to waste. So, when we thought about who would make the most use out of the flowers, we thought of people who are sick who may be dealing with a lot in their lives. Food & Friends was the perfect organization for this."

Thank you Sweet Virginia for your unique gifts to our clients. Check out some photos of these beautiful flowers below:

Thank You Third-Party Fundraisers!

Food & Friends is the grateful recipient of proceeds from numerous third-party fundraising events organized by community groups and individuals wishing to support our mission.

Since 2005, Doodles in Dewey has been raising money for Food & Friends to
honor a man who died from AIDS. This year's event raised more than $4,000.
Thank you to those who have organized events so far this year and for introducing new supporters to Food & Friends.

Aspen Institute
Bacon & Beer Festival
Clover Restaurant Group
Doodles in Dewey
Hit & Run 5K
Horman Violin Studio
Jenner & Block 100th Anniversary Fundraiser
Marc Dalton Pride Birthday Party
NBC4 Reunion Ride
Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox
Stonewall Darts
Washington Kastles Charity Classic

If you would like to host an event or promotion for Food & Friends, please contact

August 4, 2014

Better Serving Our Clients Through Technology

Our client database is integral to the work we do. It would be impossible to prepare and deliver more than 3,500 meals each day without it.

With a new client database, we will work smarter, faster
and achieve greater health outcomes for our clients.
Our current system, MealService, was developed in 2003 when we were serving far fewer clients and had less need for data. However, as our services have become more complex and as our client population continues to grow, we have made it a priority to upgrade our system.

Thanks to generous gifts from the Effi Barry HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Program and the World Bank Community Connections Fund, we are currently transitioning from MealService to a new, more advanced software, ClientTrack.

This new software will enhance our ability to execute our current programming, better evaluate the health outcomes of our clients and increase our capacity to serve more of our neighbors. Specifically, ClientTrack will reduce the time needed to start clients on service by streamlining our intake process, track and quantify outcomes of client health goals and analyze trends, conduct more sophisticated tracking of clients’ health status, communicate directly with each clients’ healthcare providers and ensure on-time meal delivery by integrating an online mapping service.

A high-functioning client database provides an opportunity to improve our clients’ lives—from better understanding and meeting their nutritional needs to better mapping systems for delivery staff and volunteers who bring clients their much needed sustenance. And as a result, we will work smarter, faster and achieve greater health outcomes for our clients.

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: