Meet Jim, Food Outreach Client


Meet Jim, Food Outreach Client

Jim was diagnosed HIV Positive in 1989. At that time, there was no treatment for patients and many people passed from the disease. “I lost my friends. I had a large group of friends and I’m the only one left. Most of them, once they found out and were diagnosed—they got sick and found out they’re dying. Most of them didn’t live a year. I had one friend, Frank, and he was the only one that lasted more than two years and then he passed away. It was scary.”

Jim’s doctor referred him to Food Outreach for nutritional support. When Jim first became a client, Food Outreach operated out of the basement of Union Avenue Christian Church. While many things have changed through the years, Jim still views Food Outreach as a lifeline. “I was grateful because at that time a lot of us were struggling. It was in the beginning of all of this—the AIDS pandemic and trying to help people. I was grateful to get the food and the Ensure. It made a big difference, especially when funds are limited. You must use what you can to pay for a roof over your head and the bills, and so that little bit of extra food helped so much.”

Things changed with the introduction of protease inhibitors, and Jim went from taking 26 pills a day to only one. “I can remember a whole palm full of pills, and sometimes the side effects from the medications were worse than the disease itself. I was sick all the time, and often too full from the pills to eat anything.”

Food Outreach changed as well, adding registered dietitians to the staff and serving patients with cancer as well as HIV. Today, Jim values the advice he receives from the registered dietitians even more since he has cardiovascular disease that impacts what he eats. He had a massive heart attack in 2008. Last June, he collapsed in his home and went into cardiac arrest when his heart stopped. His partner Tim revived him, but his heart stopped two more times on the way to the hospital.

Food Outreach helps Jim maintain a healthy lifestyle. “I go to the gym three days a week and I try to eat as healthily as possible and drink plenty of water. And that’s the thing, they give you a lot of good tips at Food Outreach. There’s pamphlets and recipes you can get on every subject from the different high protein foods to information on the amount of sodium in different food items to the best way to get a cardio exercise. That’s really helped me. Plus, you can tailor your food choices a lot. I really want low sodium items, and the dietitian has helped me with that a lot. It’s not just the food, but the informative people there that can help get you to where you need to be in improving your health.”

Jim’s favorite items from Food Outreach are the stuffed shells and candied peaches. He also likes to cook with items from the Nutrition Center. “The other day, I just took a couple cans of black beans, a can of corn, and a can of tomatoes with green chilies, and I threw that all together with cumin, paprika, and chili powder. I served the mixture with whole wheat tortillas and that’s dinner with some fresh spinach.”

Jim and Tim have been together almost 25 years. They love to spend time with their six grandchildren
ages 13 to 33. In their free time, they enjoy movies and shopping at estate sales.

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