Charity Profile: God’s Love We Deliver
When living with a life-altering illness, sometimes even the essential act of preparing a meal can be insurmountable. That’s where God’s Love We Deliver comes in. “It started with one woman who was trying to help feed a friend dying from AIDS who could no longer get out of the house to feed or shop for himself,” says Bill Ribbecke, a member of the organization’s board of trustees. The compassionate actions of that single woman, a hospice volunteer named Ganga Stone, eventually grew into the New York City-based non-sectarian organization which continues her mission to deliver meals at home to people with chronic illnesses.
Since its founding in 1985 to assist those in New York City affected by the U.S. AIDS crisis, the organization has expanded its efforts and currently serves clients with over 200 diagnoses, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease, living in all five New York City boroughs: Westchester and Nassau Counties, and New Jersey’s Hudson County. Each weekday, God’s Love prepares and delivers 7,000 meals, totaling 1.8 million annually—all at no charge to the client and with no wait list to receive its services.
While a percentage of the organization’s funding comes from the federal government through the Ryan White Program, a large portion is made up of individual donations that help further the reach of God’s Love. “It can totally change the scope of how we grow and some of the new things that we want to do,” says Ribbecke about the impact of fundraising initiatives like Negroni Week, adding that donations can even shape how the board is able to think in terms of growth. Continual progress within God’s Love can be witnessed across the organization, from the inclusion of clients’ caregivers and children in meal deliveries, to the establishment of the birthday cake program which guarantees a personalized cake is delivered to every client on their birthday (sometimes the first many have received in years).
One major area of recent focus is the organization’s motto, “Food is medicine.” “We do a lot of dietary modifications to the meals depending upon what someone is suffering from,” Ribbecke says, noting that the organization works with doctors, dietitians and nutritionists. “Our meals are really tailored from a medical perspective to make sure we are addressing the specific disease or diagnosis that someone is dealing with.” God’s Love also provides specialized nutrition counseling sessions and advocates locally and in Washington, D.C. for public policies that recognize food as an essential part of healthcare for people living with severe and chronic illness.
Once working out of cramped basement kitchen, today God’s Love operates in a 10,000-square-foot kitchen (which they believe to be the largest industrial kitchen in the city) at their recently renovated headquarters in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. From the window-filled kitchen they craft meals like five spice roasted chicken and peach-glazed pork chops with the help of thousands of volunteers; just last month the organization cooked its 21 millionth meal. “I think the more the organization gets involved in efforts like Negroni Week, we’ll be able to get the message out and it can really help us move forward,” Ribbecke says, adding that even in his three years on God’s Love’s board he’s witnessed remarkable expansion in their reach. “Soon we’ll be doing 8,000 meals a day because I can remember when it was 6,000—it’s just going to continue to grow.”
Story by Emma Mannheimer / Photo by Nicola Bailey