By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — When AIDS first spread, its victims were treated as outcasts. The sick found it hard to care for themselves and few people were willing to help.

Mike Schuh reports that is the setting that helped to launch what has become a hugely successful nonprofit in Baltimore.

Tom Patrick has been helping get meals out the door at Movable Feast for 24 years.

“It started a year before I got here,” Patrick said.

This is a far cry from 1989, when ten AIDS patients were dying and could no longer feed themselves.

“That’s why Movable Feast is here because no one would go to a person’s home that was sick. HIV positive, of course,” Patrick said.

Demand grew, and now–25 years later–it’s a $3 million machine.

Today’s patients get homemade food made in an East Baltimore kitchen.

“Last year, we did 700,000 meals to more than 3,600 households in Baltimore City, the five surrounding counties and the Eastern Shore of Maryland,” said Thomas Bonderenko, Moveable Feast executive director. “So we’ve gone from this small community-based outreach program to a place like this where we have thousands of volunteers come in to make it work each day.”

With HIV no longer a death sentence, the program expanded to all types of critically ill.

“A lot of our clients are very seriously ill and don’t have access to or ability to prepare foods for themselves. For us, food is as important as medicine,” Bonderenko said.

Food as medicine. Looking forward to the next 25 years, that’s what they think patients should be asked when discharged.

“You have to eat well, you have to stay healthy. They ask you, ‘How are you going to do that? Do you have the means, the ability to prepare healthy nutritious food for you?’ If not, ‘I want to refer you to Movable Feast,’” Bonderenko said.

Movable Feast is always looking for volunteers and donations. For more information, click here.

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