Project Angel Food: A Kitchen Fed By The Spirit of Giving

While some people volunteer to work in soup kitchens during the holidays, for the people at California’s Project Angel Food, it’s Christmas every day. Since it’s inception in 1989, the group has prepared and delivered more than 3.4 million meals. Last year alone it delivered 412,446 meals to 1,600 men, women and children home bound by AIDS/HIV, cancer and other serious life-threatening illnesses.

But how are they doing this year? Has the economic collapse affected Angel Food’s mission? Believe it or not, people are giving more than ever.

Wesley Hall just recently became Director of Development and Communications for Project Angel Food. A professional fundraiser for over 20 years, he explains what brought him to the charity:

“I was at MOCA and most recently, AFI. It’s been mostly arts organizations and what amazes me about Project Angel Food is what I call it’s “purity of purpose.” All the other organizations I’ve worked for pale in comparison. At Angel Food you know you’re doing tangible good. You see it every day. I live in West Hollywood and these are my neighbors, these are the people who live around me.”

This ‘purity of purpose’ is what energizes Hall in his new job. He explains, “For me, my mother died of cancer and some of my friends died of AIDS. A lot of organizations do different kinds of things, outreach etc. … But here the funds go directly to—” Hall’s voice trails off for a second as he looks for a way to explain it, finally saying, “I work directly above the kitchen. I see the food being prepared every day, watch it go into the vans. It’s very real.”

The holidays are an especially trying time for the Project’s clients. While the rest of the city celebrates the sounds and joys of the season, for some people, Angel Food is their only link to the outside world.

“Illness is very isolating for a lot of people. Our clients are home bound they can’t get out and participate in the social activities and parties of the season. We hand deliver the meals and often our delivery person is the only person they’ll see during the holidays.”

Like everyone else, charities are being hard hit by the economy. In fact, because their programs depend upon the generosity of people, places like Project Angel Food are even more at risk. Luckily, Angel Food is plugging along. The Christmas spirit is alive an well in Los Angeles, with donors big and small opening their wallets so that their neighbors can have a hot meal and some comfort from a friendly face come Christmas morning.

Hall says that in an organization as small as Project Angel Food, the daily mail is a big event, as each day’s supply of new donations is critical.

“Just yesterday, it was incredible to see the support coming in through the mail. Especially through the mail. To see that people still really care. We had a great money day yesterday. I know that might not be the best way to describe it, but it’s been fantastic. We’ve been hearing about other organizations and looking at the bottom line in our budget and looking at where we can cut spending and be more efficient, and it’s been really great that we’re still getting support in this difficult time. It’s great that people are responding and reaching into their wallets and not to be too afraid to help others in need.”

The support has enabled the Project to give a little more than just food this time of year, practical items like calendars, soap, lotions, bubble bath.

You can donate to Project Angel Food here. No gift is too small.