Project Angel Food

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Project Angel Food is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in Los Angeles County which provides free and nutritious meals for men and women too sick to shop and cook for themselves. The mission is to feed and nourish the sick as they battle and are disabled from critical disease or illness such as cancer, congestive heart failure, COPD/emphysema, diabetes, end stage renal failure, HIV/AIDS, stroke/cardiovascular accidents and other myriad serious diseases. Nutritionally-balanced meals are cooked and delivered at no cost to the client directly to their home. Project Angel Food serves the majority of Los Angeles County with South Los Angeles and Metro Los Angeles being the two largest service areas for the organization. Latinos, African American, and Caucasians making up 92% of their clientele.[1]

History[edit]

1989-1990
The Project Angel Food Program was founded by Marianne Williamson as an outreach program of the Los Angeles Center for Living, which helps people with life-threatening illnesses. The Center for Living provides numerous programs, such as The Clean Team, Project Nightlight and Hospice Care. The Center for Living also prepares lunch for drop-in clients and delivers meals to homebound clients. Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson and David Kessler held the first fundraiser for Project Angel Food and raised $11,000.[2]

During the year of 1990, The Project Angel Food Program moved into the kitchen of the Crescent Heights United Methodist Church. The first "Angel Art," chaired by Berry and Tony Perkins, raised over $540,000. The Center for Living subsequently opened offices on Robertson Boulevard. Due to the needs of the HIV community, the demand for the Project Angel Food Program grows dramatically. Project Angel Food has two full-time staff.[3]

1991-1999
With the dramatic increase in HIV/AIDS cases in Los Angeles, the Project Angel Food Program directed its mission to focus on the community affected by the disease. In 1991, the first “Divine Design” was held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, CA. Divine Design featured over 50 designer showrooms and a fantasy auction, with experiences featuring a swimming pool painted by David Hockney,[4] a birthday party held at Neverland Ranch and a lunch with Barbara Bush at the White House. The event raised over $1,300,000.

As the demand for meals grew, The Center for Living formally changed its name to Project Angel Food and moved its offices to an old production office on Sunset Boulevard. In 1992, Elizabeth Taylor’s AIDS Foundation gave Project Angel Food its first ever grant of $150,000, and Project Angel Food obtained its first ever government grant a year later. By 1994, over 100 individuals called for meal services each month and Project Angel Food moved into a new kitchen, funded by donations by Barry Diller, David Geffen, Barbra Streisand and Ron Burkle. Burkle agreed to underwrite rent costs on behalf of the Ralphs/Food-4-Less Foundation.[5]

In 1999, Project Angel Food served its two millionth meal and registered its 20,000th volunteer. Elizabeth Taylor accepts an Angel Award recognizing her impact on increasing awareness of HIV/AIDS, where in Los Angeles by the end of 1999 there were over 30,000 known cases.[6]

2000–Present
By the end of 2001, over 2.5 million meals have been served. Supporter Whoopi Goldberg is honored at the 2001 Angel Awards by Elizabeth Taylor. Over the next few years, as awareness of the program and the need for meals increased, Project Angel Food expanded their Mission Statement to include serving clients with other illnesses including cancer, diabetes, renal failuire, COPD and others. The program also piloted a “Breakfast Program” to provide nutritionally sound breakfast meals to clients in need.

In 2006, Project Angel Food acquired a new building at 922 Vine Street in Hollywood, CA to serve as their permanent headquarters. A groundbreaking ceremony was held with Council President Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Board Chair Merrily Newton among others. Philanthropist Wallis Annenberg presented a $500,000 leadership gift to the campaign, with other leading contributions from the Wells Fargo Foundation, the Keck Foundation, the MAC AIDS Fund, and the Ahmanson Foundation. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on November 15, 2007 marking the official opening of our new building and the delivery of the 5 millionth meal.

In 2008, the Project Angel Food kitchen received a perfect 100% score from the Los Angeles County Department of Health. Margaret Steele took over the helm from long-time chair John Gile as the new CEO of Project Angel Food. Project Angel Food's expanded mission to serve various life-threatening illnesses led to an expansion of territories throughout the greater Los Angeles community.

In 2010, the Project Angel Food Garden initiative was launched for staff and volunteers to cultivate and harvest fresh, organic vegetables and fruits to be used in meals, making use of community gardens and unused vacant plots donated by land owners. A few months later, Congressman Xavier Becerra (CA-31) toured the kitchen to see our life-saving work in action.

In 2012, Project Angel Food served its 8 millionth meal and partnered up with skincare and cosmetics brand Kiehl’s to generate additional fundraising revenue through sales of Kiehl’s merchandise in their brick and mortar storefronts. Additional fundraising revenue has come from Feed Beads, bracelets made by volunteers and sold at events, and Do Good Cookies, cookies baked in the Project Angel Food kitchens and sold at four Pavilions Supermarkets in Los Angeles, CA and Pasadena, CA. Project Angel Food has been under the leadership of Executive Director Laurie Lang since 2013.

Financial Landscape & Client Demographics[edit]

As of 2015, Project Angel Food is approximately 87% publicly funded via donor support, corporate and foundation grants and private bequests, with the other approximate 13% funded via government funding and federal grants. As of 2014, the program was estimated to cost almost $4 million per year to run. The Project partnered with Community Gardens to cut the cost of fresh fruit and vegetables after their revenue dropped from approximately $5.6 million in 2008 to $4.3 million in 2010. The Community Gardens partnership has continued into 2015 and has produced more than 3,500 pounds of fresh organic produce since its inception.[7]

Program Infrastructure
Meals delivered since 1989 - 9 million
Meals projected to be delivered in 2015 - 500,000
Average meals delivered weekly in 2015 - 9,436
Total volunteer hours in 2015 - 33,147
Full-time Staff - 37

Client Demographics
New clients enrolled on service in 2014 - 598
Un- duplicated clients served in 2014 - 1,975
Female clients - 41%
Male clients - 58%
Transgender clients - 1%
Median age of clients - 54

Primary Diagnosis Breakdown (2014)
Persons living with: HIV/AIDS - 24%
Cancer - 21%
End Stage Renal Disease - 24%
Congestive Heart Failure - 11%
emphysema/COPD - 6%
Stroke/Cardiovascular Accident - 6%
Diabetes - 4%
Alzheimer's - 1%
Other - 3%

Ethnicity (2014)
African American - 30%
Asian/Pacific Islander - 4%
Caucasian - 22%
Latino - 40%
Native American - 1%
Other - 3%

Fundraising & Community Interaction[edit]

Project Angel Food has been running a marquee fundraiser, the Angel Awards, since 1995. The Angel Awards is the programs' largest annual fundraiser, reportedly netting over $515,000 at the 2014 gala. The 2014 dinner, hosted by Sharon Stone, featured the presentation of the inaugural Elizabeth Taylor Leadership Award to philanthropist Aileen Getty.[8][9]

Project Angel Food has also fundraised through their Bowling For Angels annual fundraiser, in its 20th year in 2015. The program has raised over $40,000 in 2015 and over $300,000 since the fundraisers' inception.[10]

The agency provided assistance in the production of Paul Lekakis' film Don't tell, Don't ask by recruiting activists Bruce Vilanch, Harvey Fierstein and Whoopi Goldberg to provide commentaries.[1]

References[edit]