Health and nutrition go hand in hand. For those battling cancer and other devastating diseases, cooking a medically tailored meal can be difficult. Project Angel Heart is expanding to northern Colorado to relieve some of the stress of getting a nutritious meal.
Project Angel Heart was founded in 1991 and served the Colorado Springs and Denver area. The COVID-19 pandemic alerted the nonprofit that there were many more people it could help serve, and it made a decision to expand its boundaries, according to CEO Owen Ryan.
The project began with an expansion to the south of Denver. This year, the group will expand its services as far north as Fort Collins. Brighton, Dacono, Firestone, Fort Lupton, Frederick, Hudson, Hygiene, Longmont and Niwot will see services as soon as this week.
The expansion is thanks to a $1.4 million grant from Kaiser Permanente, which shares the philosophy that diet and nutrition can help heal the body, Ryan said.
“We know that high-quality nutrition changes the lives of people who are sick by supporting their bodies and minds. We are honored to receive this groundbreaking investment from Kaiser Permanente, which greatly increases the number of people who can receive medically tailored meals to manage their health,” Ryan said.
“Nutritious meals are important for all of us when it comes to maintaining optimal health,” said Mike Ramseier, regional president for Kaiser Permanente Colorado. “But this is especially true for people who have chronic or life-threatening illnesses. The severity of their conditions often makes it difficult for them to get the medically appropriate meals they need to stabilize or improve their health. That’s why the work of Project Angel Heart is so critical. And that’s why we’re committed to helping them expand their reach and improve the lives of more Coloradans.”
With the grant, Project Angel Heart will serve medically tailored meals to around 75% of the Front Range corridor covering a total of 2,150 square miles. The organization has a goal of serving over two million meals by 2026. This week, 28 people living with severe diseases will be served in Longmont.
Each meal is prepared in the nonprofit’s regional kitchen and is nutritionally tailored by two on-staff dieticians, Ryan said. The menus are built from a micro-nutrient level and made from quality ingredients. The meals are then packaged, labeled and frozen before they are delivered to clients by volunteers.
“For people to stay on our program and feel healthy, they have to really enjoy the meals they are getting, so we put really high-quality ingredients. Everything is made from scratch,” Ryan said.
While the focus is the client, Project Angel Heart also supplies meals to family members living in the same household all at no cost to the client, Ryan said.
Clients do have to apply to receive the service which can be done on their own or through a health care provider. Project Angel Heart will work with the client’s doctor to decide their dietary needs.
“People should reach out to us, if they know someone in their life that could use our services or they themselves might need support,” Ryan said.