For over 15 years, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has funded The Food Chain, a unique programme providing delivered meals and groceries, nutrition classes and communal eating opportunities for people living with HIV in London. The Foundation’s James Barker recently stopped in to cook and serve a meal alongside Food Chain staff, and got to know some of the programme’s volunteers and service users over a communal lunch.
“We know that people living with HIV are more likely to develop secondary conditions like heart disease and diabetes,” explained James, “so developing a healthy eating programme is paramount to the fight against HIV. But just as important is the support that The Food Chain’s clients get from being among those who face the same health challenges they do. It was inspiring to witness, and also to see how passionate the staff are about helping clients to live better, healthier, independent lives.”
The Food Chain’s Approach
The daily anti-retroviral drugs that fight HIV can also impact the body’s ability to break down fats and sugars, making healthy eating of vital importance. The Food Chain understands that those living with HIV often struggle with access to nutritious food, whether due to illness, poverty, isolation or limited skills and knowledge.
Upon entering The Food Chain programme, each client is given a Personalised Nutrition Care Plan, which may include home-delivered meals, grocery hampers, nutrition and cookery classes or opportunities for communal eating.
Over lunch, 25-year-old Ozzie shared with James how her health and outlook had improved since joining The Food Chain. “I feel more confident and healthy since starting my programme. I understand nutrition is important for me to manage my HIV status and for my drugs to work effectively. I make a smoothie each morning to make sure I get all my fruit intake and I run every day. The sessions are always so positive and it really lifts my day to spend time with other people at the lunch time sessions.”
The Food Chain has supported over 1000 people in 2013, and is just one of more than 1,300 programmes that we’ve funded since 1993. Each programme furthers our commitment to supporting those living with HIV, and to creating an AIDS free future for everyone. Here’s how you can help.