In 1985, a hospice volunteer named Ganga Stone paid a visit to an AIDS patient that changed her life. The patient, Richard Sale, was too ill to cook for himself. Ganga’s compassion took hold, a meal was prepared and delivered on the next visit, and an epiphany was born: Something as basic as delivering a meal could bring dignity and recognition to a desperate situation.
Ganga’s experience then drove her to a second epiphany. The severity of Richard’s situation demanded something more than simply delivering food. It required preparing nutritionally-tailored meals that would support an individual’s specific medical treatment. She researched his needs and was on her way again, with a new meal in hand, when she was stopped by a minister in the neighborhood who recognized her. He asked what she was doing, she told him, and he replied, “you’re not just delivering food … you’re delivering God’s love.”
And Ganga said, “That’s the name.”
With Jane Best, an organization was founded. Within two years, 50 nutritionally-tailored meals were being delivered daily from an Upper West Side kitchen.
In 1995, through the generosity of individual donors, foundations, and corporations, God’s Love purchased a kitchen and home in SoHo. It also published the first of what would be 23 widely-acknowledged nutritional guides. A decade later it was able to expand its mission to provide meals nutritionally tailored for those homebound and suffering from cancer, Alzheimer’s, MS, and other debilitating diseases.
All of this has been made possible by the compassion and dedication of now 13,000 volunteers who chop, prepare, and deliver these meals every year.
This they do, at dawn and at dusk, in the bitter cold and the sweltering heat; giving the gift of their hearts and their time to deliver 7,200 meals each weekday, to clients in all five boroughs, Hudson County, New Jersey and Westchester and Nassau Counties. No one has ever been turned away for any reason.
We always mention that over 21 million meals have been served since we began. A number that understandably dumbfounds Ganga and Jane, as we understandably are dumbfounded by the enormity of the task from which they never wavered. What began as an urgent response to the AIDS epidemic has grown to be an urgent response to all those who are too ill to cook for themselves. And everyday we still hear the echoes of a lone woman walking down a hallway, carrying dinner and a little company to a neighbor in need.