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Project Angel Food  Provides Loving Meal for AIDS Patients, Shut-Ins on Valentine's Day - 2004-02-13


A food program for AIDS patients and other ailing shut-ins is providing a special meal for Valentine's Day Saturday. Workers and volunteers are sending a special dessert, prepared with love.

Project Angel Food delivers 1,200 hot meals a day to shut-ins, using food donated by restaurants and prepared by volunteers like Sandra Lee. Ms. Lee has some experience in the kitchen. She hosts a show on the Food Network on cable television.

"We baked up some angel food cupcakes, like angel food cakes but in cupcake form. And we are going to decorate these because these are going to be delivered with the meals for Valentines' [Day] to the Angel Food recipients," she explains.

Project Angel Food began 14 years ago, and television star Judith Light is a longtime volunteer. When she's not in the Project Angel Food kitchen, she appears on shows like Law and Order and Who's the Boss, and will have a new comedy series called The Stones beginning in March. The actress has helped with Project Angel Food since 1989.

"We started the organization right in the middle of the AIDS pandemic, when we found that a lot of people that we knew, and a lot of other people in communities were suffering and dying and they really needed care and they really needed food, which is something that would keep them going a little bit longer," she explains. "So we started delivering meals and we started volunteering and I've been involved since the beginning."

John Gile, Project Angel Food's executive director, says the organization is expanding its services to shut-ins who are disabled or seriously ill with conditions like cancer and heart disease. He says the meals are free and home delivered, and they are delicious.

"It's like home cooked food. It would be a good looking meal, first of all, because often times when you're sick, you want something that's good looking. So it's a meat, a vegetable a salad, and a wonderful homemade dessert," he says.

Today, along with the cupcake for Valentine's Day, volunteers like Toni Bixgorin are packing a dessert of pumpkin pie. Ms. Bixgorin, who is retired, has helped with Project Angel Food for 11 years.

"Why? Because it gives me pleasure doing it. I'm helping other people. And it keeps me busy and out of trouble. And I like the people I work with. I've made a lot of friends. And it's very nice," she says.

Project Angel Food's John Gile says the need for food for shut-ins is much greater than the organization's capacity. He says the need is especially great among the 70,000 people in Los Angeles with HIV and AIDS.

"Often, the illness is compounded by mental illness and drug use and other physical disabilities. So it's a very complex issue and the people living with HIV in this city are some of the most vulnerable residents of our city. And we're really happy to provide them food and love," he says.

Project Angel Food's John Gile says the charity organization is making a difference among the sick and disabled. Its workers and volunteers delivered nearly 400,000 meals last year, all lovingly prepared, especially on Valentine's Day.

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