As a part of our mission to bring increased awareness of the amazing efforts of our local HIV/AIDS community and service organizations, Think Red Project (the non-profit organization behind Red Dress Party San Diego) will be publishing periodic blogs highlighting a beneficiary of the San Diego HIV Funding Collaborative (SDHDF). The SDHDF currently grants funds to 11 different HIV/AIDS service organizations in San Diego. #CelebrateImpact
The following is a Q&A with Ben Coyle, Grants & Corporate Partnerships Manager at Mama’s Kitchen:
Question: In one sentence, what does your organization represent?
Ben Coyle: Mama’s Kitchen is a community driven organization that delivers meals and nutrition support to men, women, and children severely affected by HIV/AIDS to help our neighbors avoid hunger, facilitate health outcomes, lower healthcare costs, and improve quality of life.
Q: Why is it still important to care about HIV/AIDS today?
BC: More than 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 8 (12.8%) are unaware of their infection; as our HIV+ population ages we will need to strengthen the continuum of care and support services available to this community.
Q: What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your clientele?
BC: Nutrition plays a major role in the health of someone with HIV/AIDS by strengthening the immune system, improving medication adherence and efficacy, alleviating treatment side effects, maintaining essential weight and strength, and often returning the individual to independent living.
Q: How does your organization use the money granted from the HIV Funding Collaborative?
BC: Mama’s Kitchen used grant funds to purchase food and meal containers for our AIDS Nutrition Program (our home delivered meal service for individuals too ill from HIV/AIDS to prepare their own meals) and pantry service (our free pantry for low-income HIV positive residents). These programs provide the critical nutrition needed to facilitate improved health outcomes, lower healthcare costs, and improved quality of life.
Q: What are the needs in the local HIV/AIDS community that you think have not been met or can be improved upon?
BC: Additional resources need to be allocated to address the dire health needs of many people with HIV/AIDS who not only have no health insurance or access to health care, but often no money to feed themselves or their families.
Q: What’s one thing you’d like to tell today’s youth or younger generation? Or what type of change would you like to see people make in the fight against HIV/AIDS?
BC: More than half of the new HIV infections today are people 15-24 years old; in order to stop the spread of this disease, it’s imperative that individuals practice safe behaviors, whether they are infected or uninfected.
For more information about Mama’s Kitchen, please visit www.mamaskitchen.org.