Hot meals for HIV patients still cooking

Posted on 24 Jan 2008 at 10:29pm
By John Wright – Staff Writer

Gifts, grants keep programs at two local agencies alive for now



Chastity Kirven

When she learned funding had been cut for two local programs that provide hot meals to low-income people with HIV/AIDS, Chastity Kirven took matters into her own hands.

Kirven, outreach coordinator for the LGBT black group Legacy of Success Foundation, organized a rummage sale in October to benefit the Resource Center of Dallas, which operates one of the programs.

The Resource Center and AIDS Interfaith Network had announced in August that federal funding for the decades-old programs would run out in February. But thanks to people like Kirven, representatives from the two service providers now say they’ve managed to extend the programs at least until summer.

“I’m very glad to hear that,” Kirven said this week. “I just think it’s a sign of what can happen when the LGBT community comes together and supports each other.”

It’s also a sign of the times for HIV/AIDS service providers in the wake of changes under the Ryan White Treatment Modernization Act of 2006. The updated act mandates that 75 percent of federal HIV/AIDS monies go to core medical care, leaving only 25 percent for things like food, transportation and housing.

The hot meals programs are among many that are threatened by the changes, which have left service providers scrambling to find alternate funding sources and have forced them to rely more heavily on charitable contributions.

Sheryldine Samuel-Fall, HIV/AIDS nutrition and education manager for the Resource Center, said a combination of donations like Kirven’s and grants will keep the center’s hot meals program alive through June. The program provides about 3,000 lunches a month at a cost of $200,000 annually, and about 30 percent of the center’s clients are homeless.

“Hopefully, we’ll create some sort of funding where we’re able to extend it past June,” Samuel-Fall said. “It’s not a guarantee.”

Steven Pace, executive director of AIDS Interfaith Network, said he’s come up with enough money to keep AIN’s hot meals program going through August. The program provides 18,000 breakfasts and lunches a year at a cost of about $80,000, and 48 percent of AIN’s clients are homeless or have uncertain living situations.

Pace said he believes eliminating the hot-meals programs would prevent people from getting proper nutrition and ultimately result in higher medical costs.

“I have not changed my belief that this was very shortsighted,” Pace said of the cuts. “From a very practical point of view, for the dollars that were put into these programs, the returns were enormous. I just can’t find the logic in it.”

E-mail wright@dallasvoice.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 25, 2008

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