Village Food Project in Bay Village to deliver meals to cancer patients

The Village Food Project, a recently formed volunteer organization, plans to deliver nutritious, precooked meals to cancer patients and their families in Bay Village beginning this month.

Barb Harrell, an employee of Bay Presbyterian Church, serves as the Food Project’s executive director and founded the organization after learning about a similar program operated by the Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol, Calif.

The idea is to provide at least three nutritious meals per week to cancer patients who may be too ill from chemotherapy or radiation treatments to cook their own meals.

“We’ll cook on Tuesdays and Wednesdays,” Harrell said. “We’ll deliver three meals to these families. There will be a chicken dish, two vegetable dishes, a salad, a hearty soup and a dessert.”

Bay Village youth volunteers, between 13 and 18, will cook the food in the Bay Presbyterian Church kitchen under the supervision of adults. Although the food will be prepared at the church, the Village Food Project is a community effort, Harrell said.

Adult drivers will deliver the meals to the clients. The idea is to start small — serving about four families at first — but the organizers hope to quickly grow the program and help it expand to other communities.

Eating nutritious meals can be essential to helping cancer patients regain health, said Deborah Bock, the community services director for the city of Bay Village. Bock is serving as the client liaison with the Village Food Project, helping to identify families that may need its services and determining their dietary needs.

“If somebody is going through a cancer crisis, they have special food requirements,” Bock said. “If they are undergoing chemo or radiation, there are certain foods that will nauseate them.”

The Village Food Project is willing to provide meals to either the cancer patient alone or their entire family, depending on their needs, Bock said.

Churches and community groups are invited to refer families needing meal assistance to the Village Food Project. Bock said she doesn’t know how many families in Bay Village may need the assistance, but she thinks it may be significant.

“It’s hard to say,” Bock said. “I think everybody knows somebody who has been affected by cancer. We all know people in the community who are undergoing treatment. But in actuality, we probably won’t really know until we get the word out there how many people are interested in the program.”

Volunteers with the Village Food Project plan to begin cooking meals Jan. 18, but they still are looking for adult and student volunteers and donations.

“We don’t have a lot of funds,” Harrell said. “We have a few generous donors who have been very kind to help us with seed money to get started, but our goal is by the 18th to raise $10,000 to get this project going so we can purchase the food we need.”

Harrell said the group wants to see the numbers of clients served weekly grow quickly, and they would like to help other communities launch similar programs.

The Village Food Project will have an informational session for the community 7-8:30 p.m. on Sunday. The program will take place at Bay Presbyterian Church at the intersection of Lake and Columbia roads. It will include an informational video, a tour of the kitchen and food sampling.

“It’s to raise information awareness, get people involved, get any donations that people might want to make, and sell some cookbooks we have and some T-shirts we’ve made up,” Harrell said.

Clients and their families may receive meals for no charge for as long as three months. After three months, a monetary donation is suggested to continue providing the meals.