Mission: To eliminate disability and untimely death due to nutrition-sensitive chronic disease.
About the Organization: Founded in 1988 by Michael Edwards-Pruitt, who rounded up his neighbors to help cook and deliver meals to friends dying from AIDS, Open Hand Atlanta expanded its mission in 2000 to include those with non-HIV-related critical illnesses, the disabled, and the homebound elderly. Today one of the largest community-based providers of home-delivered meals and nutrition services in the United States, the organization prepares, packs, and delivers nearly five thousand meals a day and collaborates with more than a hundred partner organizations.
Current Programs: The organization's nutrition programs and services include the delivery of meals for Medicaid clients medically tailored to help them manage their diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, obesity, and other chronic conditions; nutritious meals for seniors; and the provision of well-balanced meals for low-income children participating in the USDA's Summer Food Service Program. For the 99 percent of Open Hand Atlanta's clients who live at or below the federal poverty level — many of whom also live in "food deserts" — the organization's healthy food access programs offer weekly grocery deliveries of non-perishable groceries to ensure that medically-eligible clients have shelf-stable nutritious food items, while its Emergency Nutrition Supplement Program provides meal replacement snacks and nutrition supplements for eligible clients.
Open Hand also offers nutrition education programs on topics such as portion control, healthy eating habits, physical activity, gardening, goal-setting, and disease self-management, as well as hands-on evidence-based nutrition and cooking classes designed to reduce food insecurity, while its Medical Nutrition Therapy program provides one-on-one diagnostic therapy and counseling services prescribed by a medical or dietetic professional for disease management
In addition, the organization's Good Measure Meals social enterprise directs 100 percent of its net profits to services provided free of charge to utritionally-vulnerable members of the community.
COVID-19 Response: Open Hand Atlanta responded to a 26 percent increase in demand for home-delivered meals over the first two months of the public health emergency, shipping meals to rural counties in southwest Georgia and expanding its footprint across the state. The organization also has expanded its collaborations, including partnerships with select Kaiser Permanente Urgent Care Clinics in Gwinnett, Cobb, and south Fulton counties to provide medically-tailored meals to patients. To fund these and other COVID response efforts, Open Hand Atlanta launched an Emergency Meals Fund.
Website: Visitors to the Open Hand Atlanta site can learn more about its programs and the organization's impact on community health in the greater Atlanta region, read stories from the organization's clients, sign up to volunteer, and/or donate to the Emergency Meals Fund.
Funding: Open Hand Atlanta is supported by individuals, foundations, nonprofits, and corporations.