January 27, 2022

Expanding food program for severely ill Coloradans

Kaiser Permanente provides $580,000 grant to bring medically tailored meals and nutrition services to areas outside of Denver.

Contact: Elizabeth Whitehead

Project Angel Heart, an organization that improves the health and well-being of people with severe illness by preparing and delivering medically tailored meals, has announced an expansion of services to Pueblo, Weld, Boulder, and Douglas counties with funding provided by Kaiser Permanente.

This one-year $580,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente will help Project Angel Heart expand its service area to a total of 1,350 square miles and makes home-delivered meals and nutrition services available at no cost to people with severe illnesses who live along the I-25 corridor.

This geographic expansion marks one of the most significant in Project Angel Heart’s 30-year history. It sets a goal for the organization to provide 620,000 medically tailored, home-delivered meals to a total of 4,250 people in 2022.

“Proper nutrition is a lifeline for severely ill Coloradans — helping them live independently at home, connected to their loved ones and community. We are honored to receive this transformational investment from Kaiser Permanente, which will greatly expand the number of people across our state who receive medically tailored meals to manage their health,” said Owen Ryan, president and CEO of Project Angel Heart.

The specialized meals are created by professional chefs and a registered dietitian, tailored to meet clients’ individual and medical dietary needs to alleviate hunger and complement individual disease management and treatments. Volunteers help package and deliver meals directly to clients’ homes each week.

The expansion also increases the scope of Project Angel Heart’s services to include more comprehensive client care, including nutritional counseling and wellness visits to address health challenges and review nutrition planning for clients’ diagnoses. Peer support groups will also bring severely ill Coloradans with similar health conditions together in a virtual format to help them feel more empowered and less isolated in their health journey.

“We’re proud to have such a long history of working with and supporting Project Angel Heart. We hope this new contribution enables this cornerstone community organization to help more Coloradans in need, from Pueblo to Weld counties and communities in between,” said Mike Ramseier, regional president of Kaiser Permanente in Colorado. 

Project Angel Heart will collaborate with Kaiser Permanente and Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado to help deliver meals across El Paso and Pueblo counties. Parking lots at various Kaiser Permanente locations in these communities will serve as additional distribution sites. Project Angel Heart volunteers will meet at these sites to pick up meals and deliver to nearby neighborhoods. For Kaiser Permanente-contracted hospitals with cold storage, Project Angel Heart is committed to delivering meals that could be distributed to patients and members upon their discharge.

Studies, including those supported by Kaiser Permanente, show that providing proper nutrition is linked to improved health outcomes and lower costs of care for people who are seriously ill. In fact, Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Research in Colorado teamed up with Project Angel Heart in 2020 to develop a study called Meals Matter. This study looked at 652 participants in 2 local hospitals in Colorado. More than 20,000 meals were delivered to recently discharged patients with diseases such as heart failure, cancer, and liver disease.

“Being able to reach more community members in need of medically tailored meals ensures they can live healthier lives. But more can and must be done to support the nonprofit organizations in our communities that need staffing, funding, and additional resources to reach more Coloradans who are food insecure. We’re proud to support Project Angel Heart to help put tailored meals in the hands of our communities to improve their health,” said Rebecca Boxer, MD, medical director of clinical trials for Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Research, and Meals Matter study lead investigator.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve approximately 12.5 million members in 8 states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists, and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery, and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education, and the support of community health.