Food is Love

Being raised in a large Italian family, food has always represented love. A meal provided by someone who cares is nourishment for the body, mind, and soul, and that nourishment sustains us and offers hope.

It’s because of my connection to food and what it represents to me that I created the Change Your Attitude … Change Your Life Food is Love initiative. Food is Love is based on the belief that food is the way to a person’s heart, a way to show others that they are not alone. Through the support and generosity of donors, we create programs that provide nourishment to those in need. We offer a lifeline to those often felt forgotten.

Food is Love is not a charity, but rather an initiative. It is the connection between those who want to help and those in need. All monies collected go to purchase food or meals, which are delivered to charities for distribution.

Covid-19 Response

For the past three years, CYACYL has implemented Feed A Family This Christmas. We are now taking on COVID-19.

The most vulnerable people in our communities need us now more than ever. Through the Food is Love COVID-19 Response, we will work with area food banks and charitable organizations to deliver non-perishable food items. Your donation will help us purchase these items and get them into the hands of those in need.

DONATE TO FOOD IS LOVE COVID-19 RESPONSE

Feed A Family This Christmas

CYACYL provides nourishing, festive holiday meals to families in need. In 2019, we fed the recently homeless children and their families through Covenant House New Jersey, the women and children that were in safe housing provided by Jersey Battered Women’s Service, families through Oasis, and US veterans.

“The Feed A Family initiative was amazing! Joan and Chef Todd were wonderful to work with – from planning to delivery! Jersey Battered Women’s Service families received fully prepared holiday dinners including roasted turkey, whipped potatoes, gravy, sage stuffing, sauté green beans, cranberry sauce, rolls, and cookies. The delicious ready-to-eat meals made the holidays a lot brighter for our families hurt by domestic violence. The portions were so generous that most families had enough for leftovers the next day!” ~ Regina Braham, JBWS VP, Community Relations

“Covenant House New Jersey is grateful to CYACYL. Their Feed a Family initiative provided young people that are transitioning out of homelessness a festive holiday meal. The holidays can often be a difficult season for many. This program reminds them that they are not alone and that there are many people who truly care. What an incredible blessing!” ~ Janette Scrozzo, Development Director CHNJ

How are meals are delivered. Each family receives a box, which contains everything pictured.

The Back Story:

In early December of 2017, a chef friend called me and during our conversation, it somehow came up that we should figure out a way to feed families in need during the holidays. I’m not even sure how we got on the topic, we were probably joking about it, but that discussion got me thinking that there was no reason why we couldn’t. I just needed to figure out how.

After some consideration, I decided to create a program, under my company’s Change Your Attitude…Change Your Life (CYACYL) brand, by which people could purchase a dinner on the chef’s catering website for someone they knew was in need. We would then ship it to that person’s home with the note, “This meal is sent with love.”

We were so excited about the thought of helping others. To be honest, I had no idea if this would work, but I figured that we had nothing to lose. If we fed one family, then it was one less family that went hungry. That would be a good thing!

Three weeks before Christmas, the CYACYL Feed a Family initiative was born. We offered two meal options, turkey or ham, that were each full course dinners that fed 8 to 10 people. Each pre-cooked, boxed meal included meat, potatoes, green beans, stuffing, cranberry sauce, salad, rolls, butter, dessert. We provided everything a family would need to have a nourishing, festive dinner!

A few people purchased meals for people they knew, but the majority bought a meal with the request that we send it to a family in need. I couldn’t believe the response; I was taken off guard. We had many meals ordered and I didn’t know what to do with them. It was a wonderful problem to have!

I reached out to a friend who works at Covenant House in North Jersey and asked if she knew anyone in need. She excitedly provided a list of recently homeless families that were placed in their transitional housing. We fed every one of them!

I can’t adequately express the joy that I felt with such an accomplishment. It was a successful first attempt, more than I could have imaged. I thought that was the end.

Then, last year around the middle of November, something amazing happened. People reached out to me and asked it we were feeding families again. I did not expect that response and wasn’t planning on doing it again. But, they shared with me the joy they felt from giving in such an intimate way, so I knew we had to take it on again.

With some experience under my belt, I had a better vision of how the program should be implemented. I wanted to cut costs and increase efficiency. In year one, we incurred shipping charges sending each box to a residence. That was money I deemed as wasted as it could have purchased more food. In the second year, rather than shipping to a home, I decided to deliver individually boxed meals to a charity destination for pickup. I asked Chef Todd if he could feed two families of 8 to 10 people for the same price if he added the money we allocated for shipping to his food cost. He said he would make it work! So, that is what we did. Year two, for a $60 meal purchase, rather than feed one family of 8 to 10 people, we fed two!

With the additional meals in 2018, we were able to feed the Covenant House families and all of the abused women and their children living in safe housing provided by Jersey Battered Women’s Service. The feedback was so supportive and encouraging! I knew this had to continue.

It is now 2019, our third year, and the Feed a Family initiative is in full swing. This year we are adding veterans, through the New Jersey Veteran’s Network, to our recipient list.

The Feed a Family initiative has become more than I could have ever imagined. Just think, two friends jokingly talking about feeding families at Christmas, and now their little idea is touching and changing lives. Over and over I am reminded that anything in life is possible. Never think an idea is silly or unachievable. Remember the old saying, “He who takes no chances, wins nothing.”

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