Food & Friends
Food & Friends is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC in the United States. It was founded in 1988 in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The group aims to foster a community caring for men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses by preparing and delivering specialized meals and groceries in conjunction with nutrition counseling. All services by the group are free, rendered solely on the basis of medical need, and done six days a week, 52 weeks a year. Providing free services make raising funds to fulfill the organization's mission essential and difficult with recent economic downturn.
Food & Friends is the only organization in the Washington, DC area providing specialized, healthy meals, groceries, and nutrition counseling to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other life-challenging illnesses. Depending entirely on the support of donors and volunteers, the confidential services are free-of-charge to recipients who qualify solely based on health status and nutritional need. Staff and volunteers deliver to a service area spanning over 5,300 square miles including the District of Columbia, seven counties in Maryland and seven counties and six independent cities in Virginia.
Home-Delivered Meals (HDM)
Home-delivered meals are essential for people who are undergoing treatments for illnesses that they are battling, leaving them unable to cook for themselves. Food & Friends recognizes the importance of maintaining high nutritional standards that play a crucial role in helping people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-challenging illnesses. These meals increase clients’ ability to effectively manage the symptoms of their illnesses and mitigate the side effects of treatment.
Each delivery includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with liquid nutritional supplements if needed. Food & Friends offers 11 special meal plans to meet clients’ nutritional needs. Available meal plans: vegetarian, mild, non-dairy, diabetic, child, soft, low-fat, pureed, homeless, no dairy, no fish, and regular. A new client’s first meal is delivered by a Food & Friends staff member. Staff sit down with the client, answer any questions they might have, and assess their living situation.
The Groceries-to-Go program is for clients living beyond the beltway in Virginia and outside of Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland. It is also available to clients and family members who are healthy enough to prepare their own meals, or who have a caregiver who is able to do so. Groceries-to-Go is a bi-weekly service that includes two weeks of non-perishable groceries supplemented with fresh produce and proteins.
Nutrition Education Services
Nutrition counseling is essential in maintaining proper weight to combat illnesses and is open to all clients and anyone in the community living with a life-challenging illness. Community dietitians perform consultations that include an assessment, body composition test and diet analysis. Hands-on cooking courses are taught by volunteer chefs and community dietitians. Healthworks classes conducted at Food & Friends include topics such as Tai chi, nutrition & cancer, stress management, yoga and grocery store tours. Dietitians are also available to teach nutrition seminars at health clinics, support groups, etc. Participants learn how to safely prepare and store healthy meals, how to plan menus, and how to shop for groceries wisely.
Client Enrichment Services
- Donations—Items such as microwaves, water filters and pitchers, grocery store gift cards are distributed to clients.
- Sending Birthday Wishes –- Food & Friends recognizes client birthdays by including a chef-baked and decorated chocolate cake in the client’s regular food delivery in a bag with birthday wishes from volunteers.
- Client Picnic – Each summer is a client picnic at Food & Friends. It is an opportunity for clients to socialize and eat with staff and fellow clients.
- Thanksgiving - Throughout the month of November, thousands of pounds of food are acquired and prepared for the holiday. Hundreds of volunteers work alongside the chefs to prepare the meal for clients. On Thanksgiving Day, each client receives a full meal for four people, allowing them to host friends and families for the holiday.
- Holiday Toy Drive – Hundreds of children under 18 years receive services from Food & Friends each year. Many of these families face financial pressure, so Food & Friends collects toys each year, wraps them, and sends them out the week before Christmas. In 2011, 100 coats and 510 toys were collected and donated.
- Cancer - Brain, Breast, Cervical, Colon, Kidney, Leukemia, Liver, Lung, Lymphoma, Melanoma, Mouth/Throat, Lung, Ovarian, Pancreatic, Prostate, Stomach, Uterine
- Other life-challenging illnesses - Alzheimer's disease, Congestive Heart Failure, Dementia, Parkinson’s, Diabetes, etc.
- Virginia: Arlington, Fairfax, King George, Loudoun, Prince William, Spotsylvania and Stafford Counties, and the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fredericksburg, Manassas, and Manassas Park.
- Maryland: Calvert, Charles, Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George's, St. Mary's, and Washington Counties
Craig Shniderman, Executive Director, has led Food & Friends since April 1995. He is a native of the Washington area and has lived and worked in Greater Washington for almost his entire career. A graduate of the Maret School in Washington, DC, Craig then attended the University of Michigan (B.A. in Education, 1969; M.A. in Educational Psychology, 1970) and Catholic University of America (Master of Social Work, 1973).
Craig's career has spanned work as a special education teacher; a clinical social worker; the director of a day and residential treatment center/school for emotionally disturbed children; a charitable foundation program officer; the executive of a health care and social welfare provider and most recently the staff leader of Food & Friends. Over the years, Craig has taught psychology at a local college and has consulted on mental health and special education issues. He has more than 30 years of experience as the chief executive of nonprofit organizations. Craig lives in Rockville, MD. He enjoys hunting, fishing and making fundraising appearances in his drag personas Miss Scarlet Letter and Miss Ivana Beat Breast Cancer. For many years Craig was an active participant in Food & Friends’ fundraising bike rides and walks every year in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.
- *Food & Friends. "Who We Serve.” 2011 Annual Report. August 2012:3. Print
- Food & Friends website