Food & Friends, CFF Partner to Deliver Tailored Meals to Patients
Food & Friends will be delivering medically tailored meals to people living with cystic fibrosis (CF) in the Washington, D.C., area, as part of a new collaboration with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
The partnership aims to serve CF patients who cannot shop for and prepare food for themselves. The focus will be providing complete, medically tailored meals to children with CF, patients who have been discharged from local hospitals, and those awaiting a lung transplant.
“Expanding our meal program to this particularly high-need population within our community is a natural continuation of our mission,” Carrie Stoltzfus, executive director of Food & Friends, said in a press release.
“The lack of reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food can be a barrier that many in the CF community face,” Stoltzfus added. “We’re excited to serve as an important health intervention to improve the lives of people with cystic fibrosis.”
The two non-profit organizations expect to be able to provide meals for up to 120 individuals in the first year of the new program. Meals will be brought to participants’ homes and the service may include dependents and caregivers.
Launched from a Washington, D.C., church in 1989, Food & Friends distributes meals designed to help people living with chronic or serious illnesses to manage their symptoms and prevent side effects. Many people with chronic conditions develop special dietary needs due to metabolic changes specific to each illness, the organization notes.
“Individuals with cystic fibrosis require more energy to breathe normally, fight lung infections, and compensate for poor digestion,” according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “For these reasons, they need more calories than people without cystic fibrosis.”
How to help CF patients lead longer and healthier lives through diet and exercise is an active area of CF research.
Beyond having greater caloric needs, CF patients also may have difficulty digesting foods for lack of metabolic enzymes.
The mucus that builds up in CF patients’ organs often affects the pancreas, where it prevents enzymes needed for digestion from being released into the small intestine. Individuals affected by this complication require pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, known as PERT, to ensure that nutrients are effectively absorbed from food. Such therapy comes in addition to ensuring other dietary considerations are met.
For this new program, patients will be referred from three Washington-area treatment centers — Children’s National Medical Center, Inova Fairfax, and Johns Hopkins. A healthcare provider must make the referral.
Eligibility for the program is entirely health-based, without regard to income or insurance coverage.
Registered dietitians on the Food & Friends staff worked with their CFF counterparts “to design a diet high in calories, especially protein and fat, to address the complex nutritional needs for people with cystic fibrosis,” the groups said.
Meals are delivered six days per week.
For more information on how to refer someone to the Food & Friends CF program, please visit https://foodandfriends.org/refer-a-client/.