Apple pie. Sweet potato pie. These delicious desserts may be symbols of America, but for the 10th year in a row, they’ve also been enlisted to help out with the AIDS crisis.
This Thanksgiving season, AIDS Project New Haven will once again be selling pies baked by local schools, churches and a catering service as part of their Pie in the Sky fund-raiser. The proceeds will benefit their Caring Cuisine program, which delivers meals year-round to homebound AIDS patients and their families. A single pie’s $15 price tag can feed a family of four for a day, said Lynne Tramontano, director of Fundraising and Volunteer Services for AIDS Project New Haven.
“Everything is donated — the pies and the tins — so this fund-raiser costs us nothing,” Tramontano said. “One hundred percent of the proceeds go to the Caring Cuisine program.”
Caring Cuisine, one of AIDS Project New Haven’s core programs, began in 1988 serving only eight people. At present, 175 patients and their dependents get enough home-delivered meals to feed them seven days a week. These meals not only keep the AIDS-afflicted nourished, but give them the precisely balanced diets AIDS treatment requires, Tramontano said.
“We have a staff member who is a cook,” she said. “He works with a nutritional counselor because there are certain diets [patients] have to be on, with a certain amount of calories.”
Programs like Caring Cuisine may have benefits far beyond the merely nutritional. Making sure patients have their basic needs taken care of can improve the rest of their treatment, said Leif Mitchell, assistant director of the Community Research Core Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS, located in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health.
“Research has shown that if patients’ basic human needs like housing, clothing and food aren’t taken care of, then their ability to adhere to their medications, make their doctor’s visits and be involved in their case management — it declines,” Mitchell said.
Volunteers will be out with order forms in front of Seychelle’s clothing store on 1020 Chapel St., as well as at Dava in Hamden Plaza, Tramontano said. The pies — whether apple or sweet potato — will be available for pickup the day before Thanksgiving, either at Dava or at AIDS Project New Haven’s office at 1302 Chapel St.
Many of these pies will come from La Cuisine, a catering company based in Branford. La Cuisine owner Ben Bloom said he makes sure his company donates up to 200 pies a year for Pie in the Sky, in addition to participating in other AIDS Project New Haven fund-raisers.
“It’s an organization that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and a cause in desperate need of support,” Bloom said. “We’ve made them our charity of choice. Rather than scatter our efforts around 10 organizations, we pour all our resources into AIDS Project New Haven.”