New York: HIV/AIDS Agency Seeks Clients for Nutrition Program
November 23, 2010
The only thing missing in Hudson Valley's largest HIV food program is enough HIV-positive clients.
Together Our Unity Can Heal, an agency in Congers, N.Y., serves about 85 of the estimated 785 HIV-positive Rockland County residents, said TOUCH Executive Director Robert Maher. "I think the majority of people who aren't using the program don't know about it," Maher said.
TOUCH raises about $40,000 annually to cover its costs, and recently received a $1.25 million federal grant to continue the program. To be eligible, a person must be HIV-positive and meet twice per year with a nutritionist. There is no income eligibility limit.
TOUCH has revamped its menu over the years to respond to the longer lifespan and changing nutritional needs of HIV-positive clients. Recognizing the growing problem of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity among clients, the food program has abandoned high-calorie foodstuffs in favor of fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.
Each week, clients receive a seven-day supply of food, plus a $60 gift card for perishable items such as milk. To ensure the clients make healthy choices with the gift card, they submit receipts to TOUCH.
"This is truly helping improve people's eating habits," Maher said. "We all know how difficult it is to eat better and we recognize how expensive it is to eat better."
TOUCH hopes to offer clients cooking classes to help them prepare nutritious, good-tasting meals. Germonds Presbyterian Church in New City has donated use of its kitchen; TOUCH is looking for a volunteer to run the classes, Maher said. For more information, telephone 845-268-8023.
Journal News (White Plains)
11.18.2010; Khurram Saeed
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