Monday marked a major milestone for Denver-based nonprofit Project Angel Heart, an organization dedicated to helping people make ends meet. After 31 years of delivering medically tailored meals to Coloradans dealing with illness, the organization's volunteers made and dropped off its nine millionth meal.
"We started with a pan of lasagna to 9 million meals," said CEO and president Owen Ryan. "It's a big accomplishment."
With the help of state representative Leslie Herod, the meal made its way to Kent Dobbs' doorstep Monday morning. For Dobbs and many others, these meals are often a constant when illness makes life difficult.
"Some days it's the only thing I eat is that meal," Dobbs said. "I'm just too tired to do anything else, so yeah, it's a big deal."
Since 2016, Dobbs has become more reliant on these free meals, and lately, many others around Colorado have been too. So far this year, volunteers have delivered 100,000 more meals than the year before.
"We serve home-delivered meals from Boulder and Weld County down to Pueblo, and we just see the need expanding tremendously," said Ryan. "We saw that start through the pandemic, and it's just continued."
Still, Ryan says soaring food and gas prices make fulfilling that need more challenging than ever before.
"Are we get meals out to people who are sick and need them or are we going to collapse from this price pressure?" he said.
Now, to avoid the latter scenario Owen is hoping for new donations, and especially new volunteers. Normally, it takes about 500 people to make and deliver all of the meals needed in a single week.
"We're grateful for how many people come out to support our program, but we need more," Ryan said.
Any extra help will be crucial in the program's efforts to serve millions more Coloradans over the coming years, he said.
"A lot of our clients tell us the choice is between paying for their medicine and paying for their food," Ryan said.
"I'm really hopeful more folks in our Colorado community are going to come out and support us so we can continue getting out what we need."
Ryan estimates the nonprofit will serve its ten millionth meal around December 2023.
You can sign up to volunteer or donate on Project Angel Heart's website.
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