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March 26, 2015

Thank You Bank of America!

Bank of America Charitable Foundation has awarded $25,000 to Food & Friends to address the urgent hunger and nutritional needs of those in the community living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. The grant will support our Freshly-Prepared Meals and Groceries-to-Go Programs that home-deliver specialized and nutritious meals to the critically ill in the DC Metro Region. Bank of America’s contribution provided over 3,500 meals to our clients today, March 26th. Additionally, Bank of American employees volunteered on this day to help prepare and package the meals.

As a funder with a vision to support the local community, the impact of funding from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to support those living with critical illnesses cannot be overstated. More than 80 percent of Food & Friends’ clients live at or below the poverty line; for them, the meals Food & Friends provides not only offer vital nutrition but also financial relief from the many costly burdens of living with serious illness.

“Food & Friends works tirelessly to help alleviate hunger for those who need it most throughout our community,” said Jeff Wood, Greater Washington market president, Bank of America. “With health and nutrition intricately linked, this support will enable Food & Friends to provide vital access to quality food for those living with HIV/AIDs, and we hope it will be one step further on the road to health.”

“For people living with critical illnesses, our high-quality, specialized and home-delivered meals are a low-cost intervention that assures better health outcomes, independence and an improved quality of life for those we serve,” says Food & Friends Executive Director Craig Shniderman. “It is because of the efforts of Bank of America’s Charitable Foundation that we are able to make such a difference in the lives of so many local residents in need of proper nutrition.”

March 11, 2015

Alpha Kappa Alpha - Xi Omega Chapter's Timeless Service to Food & Friends

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1998, seven members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Xi Omega Chapter, joined Food & Friends’ volunteer corps. For 17 years, this chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. has remained committed to the Food & Friends’ volunteer program and increased its volunteer numbers and hours.

Notably, in January 2015, Xi Omega logged its 1,200th volunteer hour at Food & Friends. This milestone achievement establishes the sorority as a great example for any civic organization committed to making a difference in the local community. 

“The partnership started 17 years ago as an extension of Alpha Kappa Alpha’s international focus on strengthening the family and health promotion,” says Dr. Lavdena Orr, the president of Xi Omega Chapter and sorority member for over 25 years. “We work to help those citizens in our community who are disadvantaged because of their health. Every year, more and more [Xi Omega] volunteers want to help.”

Alpha Kappa Alpha is the nation’s oldest Greek-letter sorority founded by college-educated, African-American women. Xi Omega, which was chartered in 1923, is the oldest Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc -graduate chapter in Washington, DC. Xi Omega volunteers at Food & Friends every year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service in support of “a day on and not a day off” initiative.

“Our main drive for giving back every year is to make sure we are helping our community,” says Dr. Orr. “Food & Friends has the resources to help people with health challenges and we have the hands.”

Vivian Smith, an Alpha Kappa Alpha member for over 50 years and former president of Xi Omega, was part of the first group of women who volunteered in 1998. The feeling she gets when serving the community is what keeps her coming back. “Volunteering is a good feeling,” says Vivian. “For me, it’s a feeling of knowing that someone out there is going to benefit from something I’ve been able to do.”

Xi Omega’s community service not only results in the preparation and delivery of nutritious meals, but a better understanding of how the community can support the critically ill.

“We have seen positive changes in Food & Friends over the years,” says Cora Dixon, member of the sorority for over 40 years and Food & Friends volunteer since 1998. “Our experience there has caused other [Alpha Kappa Alpha] members to want to come. It seems like they have developed an appetite to come and make a difference in the lives of those who are seriously ill.”

For April Gaines-Jernigan, an AKA member for 33 years, volunteering fulfills a vow she made when she first joined the organization. “When I leave, I feel like I have contributed to the community and that we have made an impact and a statement that we are fulfilling our [sorority] pledge of serving all mankind. I enjoy it and wish that we could come more often!”

Thank you Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Xi Omega Chapter for being such a great partner. Your commitment to Food & Friends’ mission is a shining example of a partnership that results in positive outcomes for the community.

March 9, 2015

How We Plan Our Specialized Menu

We've all been there. You're hosting a dinner party for your friends and each of them has different food preferences and possibly even food allergies or intolerances. Now, imagine developing a 6-week menu for hundreds of people. To even the most experienced chef, this scenario is quite the challenge.

Planning our 6-week menu of specialized nutritious meals is a complex, multifaceted task for our team of chefs and registered dietitians. The primary goal of this process is to develop meals that appeal to our clients while supporting their overall health and immune function. Check out our infographic below which explains how our team of chefs and dietitians develop meals that are relevant and vital to those we serve.

February 19, 2015

Contribute with Confidence

We know there are many organizations competing for your charitable dollar. We have a deep respect for our donors. It is important to us that your contributions are put to good use. Thank you for your trust and for joining us in our work meeting the needs of those in our community who are counting on us as they battle serious illnesses. Because of you, our neighbors in need are able to receive food and nutrition education, at no cost to them, as they battle HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. We are sincerely grateful. 

We are committed to the highest level of service to our clients and the highest standard of stewardship of the contributions of our staff, volunteers and donors. As reported in Food & Friends’ most recent Form 990, 81.1% of donated funds are used for direct client costs. This far exceeds the 65% minimum program expenses suggested by the Better Business Bureau and demonstrates to you that we take our fiduciary and governance responsibilities very seriously. Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchgroup, gives us a 97% score in Accountability & Transparency.

IRS Form 990 Facts
  • Food & Friends' annual budget for 2015 is more than $9 million;
  • 81.1% of budget supports program expenses;
  • 3.5% of budget supports administrative expenses;
  • 15.4% of budget supports fundraising and development expenses;

Breakdown of Food & Friends Revenue Streams (based on 2013 Audit):
  • Public Funding: 32.4%
  • Individuals: 31.2%
  • Special Events: 15.6%
  • Corporations and Foundations: 12.9%
  • Capital Campaign: 4.9%
  • Other: 3%

We hire the best talent and work hard to retain staff:
  • 52 staff members;
  • We leverage the support of more than 10,000 volunteers each year to stretch every dollar we raise;
  • We take professional development seriously and have an ambitious staff training program. Food & Friends’ staff attend dozens of local trainings and webinars each year to keep their professional skills sharp and up-to-date. Food & Friends also pays the dues for several staff to join relevant professional associations;
  • Our Executive Director, Craig Shniderman, has led Food & Friends for over 20 years;
  • Results of our investment in staff retention are tangible:
    • 49% of staff have worked at Food & Friends at least 5 years;
    • 23% of staff have worked for Food & Friends for at least 10 years;
    • 11% of staff have more than 15 years tenure;

You, our donors, are a critical part of our mission. It’s your dollars that keep us going and enable us to serve a need in the community. So you have the right to know how your gift is used. You can learn more about the impact of your gift through our monthly enewsletter, ChopTalk publication, tax returns, audited statements and annual report. We believe in transparency and accountability, which is why all these reports are provided for your directly on our website. 

If you have any questions about the impact of our services and how your money is put to good use, please contact our Director of Development, Pat Cornell, at or (202) 269-6970.

January 27, 2015

Vote Food & Friends for "Best Place to Volunteer"

Vote Food & Friends for Best Place to Volunteer
Each year, the Washington City Paper holds it's "Best of DC Readers' Poll" contest which picks the best restaurants, shops, bars, and much, much more. This year, please help Food & Friends win the great honor of "Best Place to Volunteer."

Volunteers are the heart of Food & Friends. Our services to children and adults in the region facing life-challenging illnesses would not be possible without their help in the kitchen, in our offices and on the road. This past year, more than 10,000 volunteers shared their time and talents with Food & Friends donating more than 100,000 hours of service.

Polls close at midnight on March 1st. Some of our current volunteers tell you below why we deserve this recognition:
"It's more than just seeing the faces on the other side of the door, but knowing that you are impacting the lives of others in need."

"Food & Friends values the opinions of its volunteers and strives to make each visit a better experience for everyone involved."

"We were very impressed by how organized everything was and how everything has its own process. It is awesome that Food & Friends is able to provide the assistance that you do to your clients and cater to all of their dietary needs with healthy food."

"The staff is upbeat, fun and friendly and they always make me feel welcome and that whatever task I'm doing is truly beneficial and appreciated."

"This is such a great place to help. Everyone can get involved in her/his own way!"

December 3, 2014

Washington Post: D.C. nonprofit puts the ‘happy’ in Thanksgiving by feeding ill area residents

Karen Washington hugs Food & Friends volunteer Petie Bonbreast in
Capitol Heights, Md., on Nov. 27, 2014. (Kate Patterson/For The Washington Post)

By Robert Samuels November 27

Karen Washington could only call the delivery a blessing. Two volunteers with the nonprofit organization Food & Friends had knocked on the doors of her Capitol Heights home, carrying a bag packed with a full Thanksgiving dinner that could feed a half-dozen.
Washington thanked them. She hugged them. “Come in, come in!” she invited.
In the kitchen, Washington’s sons were cutting up peppers and chopping celery. They began unpacking the feast bestowed upon them: roasted turkey, sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing, green beans, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce.
(Source: Samuels, Robert (2014, November 27). D.C. nonprofit puts the 'happy' in Thanksgiving by feeding ill area residents. The Washington Post, pp. B, B2).

November 13, 2014

It's More Than Pie - It's Helping a Mother Support Her Family

Your support of Slice of Life will make a tremendous impact on our clients. Naomi Ryan is one of them.

For Naomi, undergoing treatment for breast cancer meant frequent trips to the hospital. Naomi’s radiation therapy was five times a week, for two hours a day, and left Naomi feeling weak and tired when she got home. Preparing meals was the last thing on her mind.

When good nutrition was becoming increasingly important, Naomi struggled to find the time or energy to prepare meals for herself or for her son.

“Right after surgery, I would come home and be exhausted,” says Naomi. "All I wanted to do was sleep - I didn't have the energy to cook."

Food & Friends is helping Naomi and her family by delivering meals 3 times a week, supplying them with the nutrition Naomi needs to help her stay healthy. Lifting that burden allows Naomi to focus on her treatment and stay healthy. 

Naomi’s 10-year-old son, a Type-1 diabetic, also benefits from Food & Friends services.

“For him it is important to eat, and watch what he eats,” Naomi says. “The things Food & Friends brings are good for him.”

Oranges and apples Food & Friends delivers provide daily nutrition to mother and son at a time when a healthy diet is important in their lives. Before going to school, Naomi’s son loves to eat the eggs and turkey sausage that Food & Friends brings them. He uses the milk to have cereal in the morning too.

"[Before Food & Friends], sometimes there wasn't enough food,” says Naomi. “When Food & Friends comes, we're like 'Thank god we have meals.'"

October 31, 2014

What is a ghost's favorite pie? | Pie Flavor of the Week


Nutty Pecan is crazy about Halloween - his clown costume is perfect for today's festivities! He also loves telling his favorite Halloween joke:

Q: What is a ghost's favorite pie?

A: "Boo"berry pie!

But Nutty Pecan knows he's way better than any "boo"berry pie - our Slice of Life pecan pie has a delicious buttery crust overflowing with pecans. This traditional Southern pie has the consistency of a scrumptious torte and tastes even better warm!

Nutty Pecan is just one of the FIVE DELICIOUS FLAVORS that are sure to make you extra thankful this Thanksgiving. Order online and pick up your pie on November 25th at a pick-up site in DC, MD, or VA.

Not local? Buy a pie for a Food & Friends client that will be delivered with their Thanksgiving meal.

Don't wait! Order by November 20th and do something sweet this holiday season that will help thousands of our neighbors in need.

October 30, 2014

Food Insecurity and the Chronically Ill

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season. For many, it can mean overindulgence in heavy plates loaded with turkey, rich stuffing and mashed potatoes. However, for food insecure households in our community, celebrating the holiday festivities is a bit more difficult.

Lack of access to healthy food contributes to poor health outcomes.
Access to affordable healthy food is a challenge for many DC Metro Region residents. In the District of Columbia, more than 13% of the population faces food insecurity. Along with hunger, lack of access to healthy food contributes to poor health outcomes.

Food insecurity frequently leads to a diet which is void of basic vitamins and minerals but overwhelmingly high in saturated and hydrogenated fats, simple carbohydrates and sodium. Elevated rates of depression, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, increased risk of infection and malnutrition are all associated with food insecurity.

For those living with a chronic illness, proper nutrition can minimize the side effects of harsh medications and treatment, risk of infection and hospitalizations. Consistent access to good food plays a powerful role in preventing, treating and surviving serious health conditions.

People who are HIV positive are more likely to routinely face food insecurity. Food insecurity within the HIV positive community at the national level impacts an estimated 48-50% of the population. Food & Friends’ consistent provision of well-balanced and nutritionally complete meals is beneficial to clients by improving adherence to antiretroviral therapies and supporting CD4 cell levels, helping to keep HIV clients’ viral loads in better control.

Rates of food insecurity are also much higher for people living with cancer (approximately 56% of the population). Delivering food to these individuals and their families helps them maintain their weight throughout treatment which reduces rates of malnutrition, decreasing overall mortality and disruption to treatment due to infection or hospitalizations.

Chronic illness has profound impacts on the demand for food nutrition services, especially the need for medically-appropriate nutrition. Food & Friends’ clients have unique nutritional needs and challenges that need to be met. With the support of our partners, volunteers, and donors, Food & Friends will continue to connect the community with our most vulnerable neighbors to ensure that they receive the nutrition needed to battle their illness.

October 22, 2014

Slice of Life Pie Flavor of the Week: Pumpkin


Howdy! Each year our Spiced Pumpkin Ranger hopes to lasso his friend Homemade Apple as they duel to be the most popular pie flavor in town. But every year he falls a little bit short.

This is your chance to help Spiced Pumpkin bring home the prize!

Buy a Slice of Life pumpkin pie, or any of our 5 delicious pie flavors, and you will help provide ONE FULL day of meals to one of our clients. These meals will provide critical nourishment as they struggle with HIV/AIDS, cancer or another debilitating illness.

Spiced Pumpkin is a Thanksgiving staple, and ours has a creamy filling with the perfect mix of spices and fresh pumpkin flavor in a delectable crust! Get yours today!

Here are some other ways that you can support Slice of Life:

You can ensure that in addition to a FULL Thanksgiving dinner for 4, our clients will also receive an apple and a pumpkin pie with their holiday dinner.

Send a pie as a gift and the recipient will receive an e-card with a redemption code. They can even select the pick-up site that's best for them.

Tell your friends to buy their Thanksgiving pies from us! Here are a few Tweets you can post:
  • #Thanksgiving is JUST a few weeks away. Buy a #SliceofLifeDC pie & provide a day of meals for @foodandfriends clients
  • Deliver hope 1 pie at a time! Buy your #SliceofLifeDC T-Day pies from @foodandfriends. Sales end 11/20.

Sales Close Thursday, November 20th so ACT NOW!