I was just in New York City, where I attended the annual Golden Heart Awards, hosted by God’s Love We Deliver (GLWD), a not-for-profit created 32 years ago when a woman began delivering food on her bicycle to a man dying from AIDS. It was my first opportunity to attend these awards and hear about the outstanding work this organization has done since its founding.
Today, GLWD cooks and delivers more than 1.7 million meals annually to nearly 7,000 individuals in the greater NYC area, 90% of whom live below the poverty line. GLWD’s services benefit not only people living with HIV/AIDS, but also those touched by cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and 200 other chronic and severe diseases.
The organization’s motto and belief is that “Food is Medicine.” Registered dietitians create meals tailored to the specific clinical problems of recipients. In doing so, GLWD is helping reduce hospitalizations, readmission and overall healthcare costs.
Of equal importance to these home delivery efforts is GLWD’s focus on broad patient nutrition education for individuals with cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, congestive heart failure, reduced kidney function, Alzheimer’s and high blood pressure. Given how many people have been impacted in one way or another by these conditions, I strongly encourage patients and families to check out this valuable and accurate information.
This year’s Golden Heart Awards, attracted more than 700 guests to honor the individuals, companies and foundations that support the critical work of God’s Love We Deliver.
From the 2017 Golden Heart Awards, featuring (L to R): Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Kors and Karen Pearl
This year’s recipients were chef Jon Gilman, who compiled the organization’s recently released cookbook; Jordan Roth, president of Jujamcyn theaters; and Academy Award-winning Actress Gwyneth Paltrow. The event featured honorary chair and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, along with co-chairs Sarah Arison, Nell Diamond, Kate Hudson, John Idol, Michael Kors, Sandra Lee and Blaine Trump. I was invited to attend by my sister Karen Pearl, the organization’s CEO since 2006, because of my interest in the role nutrition plays in health and disease prevention.
Over the years, hundreds of public figures have donned aprons and volunteered to prepare meals on behalf of GLWD. They include notable celebrities, icons in the fashion industry, mayors of New York City and other leading politicians.
I left feeling confident that if we can mobilize the same breadth of expertise and experience in healthcare as this organization has accomplished, that we can find a way to provide medical coverage to all Americans, improve the health of the nation and restore the country to the global health care prominence it deserves. Addressing the dietary shortcomings of our nation and improving nutrition for all Americans would be a great first step.
Dr. Robert Pearl is the bestselling author of “Mistreated: Why We Think We’re Getting Good Health Care–And Why We’re Usually Wrong” and a Stanford University professor. Follow him on Twitter @RobertPearlMD.