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”This is not a ‘meals-on-wheels’ program,” says Food & Friends Executive Director Craig Shniderman. Instead, he describes Food & Friends as a charitable organization located in Washington that serves clients in the city, as well as more than a dozen counties in Virginia and Maryland, by providing home-delivered nutrition, at no cost, to children and adults living with HIV/AIDS or other life-challenging illnesses.
”This is a program for people who are seriously health-impaired and can’t depend on their families, so we’re looking to make a health assessment,” Shniderman says. ”One thing we are not looking to assess is people’s financial circumstances, because we believe that everybody who is sick is entitled to Food & Friends’ services.”
And, he adds, ”that’s why Capital Pride is important.”
The annual celebration, says Shniderman, ”raises community awareness and it increases community generosity for programs like ours. Pride keeps us all together, it keeps us focused on gay-community needs and the need for people to turn out as volunteers for many good organizations, including, we hope, Food & Friends.”
Aside from the staff of 58, Food & Friends greatly depends on more than 6,500 volunteers — about a third of whom joined in just the past year.
”That’s because we’re having more and more volunteer groups coming — including one of our longest serving volunteer organizations, Burgundy Crescent.”
Shniderman, who is straight, says D.C.’s LGBT community has been the ”bedrock” of Food & Friends throughout its 20 years of operation.
”We were founded by the LGBT community and we’re still very much a part of that community in terms of who’s on our board, who’s on our staff, who our volunteer core is comprised of, and why we’re serving.
”While we are not exclusively any community, we’re really every community — but especially the LGBT community.”
For more information about Food & Friends, call 202-269-2277 or visit www.foodandfriends.org.