Food Outreach, the only provider of medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling for people living with HIV and cancer in Missouri and western Illinois, and DOORWAYS, the only organization in the Saint Louis area whose sole mission is providing affordable housing and supportive services to people living with HIV, are partnering to launch a program to combat nutrition insecurity. The collaboration will help ensure that community members living with HIV and who transition from homelessness to a DOORWAYS supportive housing program will receive medically tailored meals needed to improve health status—the foundation for building a more self-directed life.
With a focus on nutrition’s role in client stabilization, this partnership is operated in the DOORWAYS Provisions Pantry located at the newly opened Jefferson Avenue campus. Through the experience and expertise of Food Outreach, DOORWAYS clients in many of the agency’s housing programs will have access to food goods and nutrition classes. Together, these agencies are providing centralized food and nutrition services focused on meeting community members where they live.
Years of research and experience confirm that HIV and nutrition insecurity are entwined in a vicious cycle. Nutrition insecurity is associated with reduced HIV viral load suppression and suboptimal HIV treatment adherence. Adopting a food is medicine approach (e.g., good nutrition) is crucial for managing HIV infection. Similarly, housing is healthcare. It is nearly impossible to manage an HIV medication regimen without stable housing. The alliance between the agencies underscores the complementary nature of their missions in serving without discrimination a diverse population at the intersection of scarcity—including nutrition hardship, housing, utility distress, social isolation—and illness associated with a diagnosis of HIV.
“People who are food and nutrition insecure suffer disproportionally from chronic diseases like HIV,” said Opal M. Jones, President & CEO of DOORWAYS. “We’ve seen firsthand the devastating effects of nutrition insecurity among our clients and believe tackling this issue is key to building the foundation for improved health and life outcomes. Partnering with Food Outreach will ensure we are offering an effective food and nutrition program.”
“We are honored to be partnering with DOORWAYS,” said Julie Lock, Executive Director at Food Outreach. “With this co-located agency model, we have a real opportunity to meet individuals living with chronic illness and experiencing economic disparity where they are, and provide for their basic needs, support them on their treatment journey, and help improve their quality of life.”