A Letter from our Executive Director

Julie Lock

At Food Outreach, we know good nutrition supports chronic illness treatment and plays a major role in our clients’ overall wellness. Our services disrupt the cycle of nutrition insecurity, malnutrition, and poor health by connecting clients to the resources they need to maintain a balanced diet and manage their diagnoses. As research demonstrates, providing Medically Tailored Meals (MTM) to individuals living with nutrition insecurity and chronic illness is one of the least expensive and most effective ways to achieve improved and more equitable health outcomes.

More community members need our services each year. Through intakes provided by our registered dietitians, Food Outreach welcomed 592 new clients in 2023, a 10% increase over 2022. Moreover, 39% of these individuals were experiencing moderate to severe malnutrition, indicating issues which need to be addressed quickly as nutrition emergencies. Along with this and the many other stressors our clients experience each day, 83% of these individuals live at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), or $15,060 in annual income.

Our clients tell us that Food Outreach’s strengths are the nutrition which fuels their bodies and the dependability of our team of volunteers and staff. Our volunteers consistently show up for our clients. During 2023, Food Outreach benefited from the work and support of 1,705 volunteers—the equivalent of 10 full-time employees. We never have to sell our mission to our volunteers; many have battled cancer treatment themselves or with their loved ones, have lost partners to AIDS, or have parents and family members who struggle to manage chronic illnesses. Our volunteers, alongside Food Outreach’s 17 employees, understand that our bodies must have proper nutrition to work with treatments for improved health. Each member of the Food Outreach team plays a vital role in providing our services with care and expertise in every aspect of this special agency.

Our clients and their individual stories guide Food Outreach’s critical nutrition program and demonstrate the impact of providing services with respect, kindness, and care. Jim’s experience, shared in the 2023 Annual Report, reflects our legacy as an agency rooted in the devastating history of the AIDS epidemic and Food Outreach’s compassionate and impactful response. Jim’s health story also situates the relevance and importance of our registered dietitians as they address pre-existing and emerging diagnoses in the lives of our clients and provide helpful information about nutrition and exercise. Joan’s story emphasizes that our scratch-prepared entrées and sides help not only with her treatments, but in the experience of enjoying good food. Joan also affirms the importance of our connections to one another as she treasures the handmade cards she receives in her monthly home-delivery box. I am reminded from reading both Joan and Jim’s stories that I should never underestimate the acts of love and kindness so many people from our agency provide to elevate our clients’ lives.

Food Outreach remains steadfast in improving and expanding services to deepen its regional impact and eliminate barriers to nutrition. This past year, we significantly expanded our meal home-delivery services and began operating co-located services with our community partner, DOORWAYS. These strategic investments solve issues of access as well as emergency needs for nutrition. The 2023 Annual Report highlights Rudi’s long history of supporting both Food Outreach and DOORWAYS with his late husband, Paul, and speaks to the establishment and legacy of these sister agencies. Furthermore, we continue to build capacity with local farmers to provide our clients with locally grown fresh produce and collaborate with local food distributors to rescue food that can be prepared into new menu options. This ensures clients receive high-quality nutrition in a way that supports our local food community and contributes to reduced food waste.

As we look toward 2024, Food Outreach celebrates its growth and recommits to addressing food insecurity as a social determinant of health and utilizing nutrition as a powerful tool in chronic illness treatment.

With the utmost gratitude,

Julie Lock

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