With generous funding from The M·A·C AIDS Fund, God’s Love We Deliver hosted the 2019 Advocacy Capacity Building Project Symposium of the Food is Medicine Coalition from September 9-11, at the offices of Hogan Lovell in Washington D.C. The Symposium brought together a diverse set of food and nutrition services agencies from across the nation, who deliver medically tailored diets to people who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves. Like God’s Love, most of the agencies began more than 30 years ago at the height of the AIDS pandemic and have since expanded their missions to serve persons living with chronic and severe illness: HIV/AIDS, cancer, renal failure, Alzheimer’s, severe diabetes, and many, many more. For this population, as for all of us: food is medicine.
The Symposium is the culmination of the year-long staff development program for medically tailored food and nutrition services agencies in how to advocate for medically tailored meal services at local, state and national levels, as well as a venue for updates and education about advocacy efforts for all food and nutrition services organizations nationwide. This year’s symposium felt particularly momentous because of the widespread attention that the social determinants of health are receiving in the healthcare community. The Symposium gave us the chance to come together and reflect on the past year, discuss exciting new research, learn about the innovative work being done across the country, and advocate for policies that expand access to medically tailored meals.