Independent Staff Report
HOLLYWOOD — Project Angel Food delivered 1,900 meals to critically ill people and their caregivers, senior citizens and formerly homeless people throughout Los Angeles County Nov. 25 and 26 in time for Thanksgiving.
More than 200 volunteer drivers picked up meals curbside at Project Angel Food’s kitchen and facilitated social-distanced deliveries to clients who are often alone and isolated during the holidays.
Among the volunteers were new dads Jesse Tyler Ferguson of “Modern Family” and his husband, actor and filmmaker Justin Mikita. The two are longtime supporters of Project Angel Food and delivered meals on Wednesday afternoon
“It’s one of our very favorite traditions — delivering with Project Angel Food for Thanksgiving,” the two said. “Even though this year is different in so many ways, we were so happy to be able to keep this tradition alive.”
The couple picked up meals at the Project Angel Food kitchen, loaded their car with traditional turkey dinners complete with roasted potatoes, stuffing, peas, cranberry sauce and apple pie; then hit the road, delivering to several clients in Los Angeles. While they wore masks and maintained a safe-social distance, they not only made certain clients received meals, but did so with warmth, compassion and humor.
Often, a Project Angel Food delivery is the only connection a client will have during their week, a spokesperson for the organization said.
Ferguson and Mikita were fully engaged during their deliveries, even taking selfies with Project Angel Food clients and their neighbors.
“Having one of the most recognizable guys on television show up at the door was a special surprise for our clients,” said Richard Ayoub, executive director of Project Angel Food. “These clients are often alone and isolated during Thanksgiving, so when Jesse and Justin arrived, meal bags in hand, they were blown away.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” said 60-year-old Catherine S., who receives meals tailored for her cancer diagnosis and was unable to see her son who lives in Arkansas this Thanksgiving because of travel guidelines. “‘Modern Family’ is my son’s favorite show and to see Jesse just made me so happy. I said I recognized Justin from the red carpet. When they left, I called my son and said, ‘You’ll never guess who just brought me my Thanksgiving meal!’”
An elderly man taking care of his bed-ridden son seemed to move Justin and Jesse. Jesse talked to the man about his uniquely southwestern hat with turquoise stones, familiar to him from his Albuquerque, New Mexico, upbringing. Both father and son will enjoy Project Angel Food’s Thanksgiving spread, as everyone gets two meals — one for themselves and one for a caregiver or to enjoy as leftovers.
Ayoub said Ferguson and Mikita gave Project Angel Food much to be thankful for this year.
“That they took time out of their schedule, with a five-month-old son at home, really speaks to how committed these two special human beings are to others.”
Project Angel Food was established in 1989 in response to the AIDS crisis and provides medically tailored meals to people who are living with life-threatening illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Because Project Angel Food clients are most vulnerable to COVID-19, or have COVID-19, the services have never been as vital as they are today.
Pre-pandemic, Project Angel Food served 1,500 people per day; that number has soared to 2,300 people per day — a 54% increase due to demand.