Purpose and Need
Out of 767,000 cancer survivors in the United States in 2010, an estimated 63,000 were Northwest Ohio residents (American Cancer Society, 2011). A cancer diagnosis is no longer always terminal. Cancer patients and survivors are now able to go back to work, celebrate another birthday, hold another grandchild, and live another year as a survivor.
Research shows that proper nutrition can help boost survival rates and shorten recovery time in patients undergoing cancer treatment. Likewise, good personal hygiene and cleanliness of the home environment are vital for patients with greater susceptibility to infection due to lowered immunity from treatment. Unfortunately, many area residents do not have access to nutritious foods and essential hygiene items.
Financial hardship often accompanies a cancer diagnosis – be it from the cost of the treatment itself or in lost wages when the patient or caregiver has to stop working. This makes providing free resources to patients and caregivers critical. While it’s true that a number of cancer-related organizations exist in the region, our market research has outlined specific areas that are lacking in service provision to the cancer community. These include access to food and hygiene products necessary to promote nutrition and cleanliness needed for a healthy recovery.
Nightingales Harvest helps address this gap in local services by being the only free food bank for cancer patients and their families in the region.
Programs and Services
The program provides perishable and non-perishable foods, personal hygiene items, and home cleaning products at no cost to cancer households in Northwest Ohio and Southeastern Michigan. Nightingales Harvest stands out because of the personal involvement that each cancer patient receives, including home visits to assess needs, home delivery of food, personal hygiene items, toiletries and cleaning products, and referrals to community resources to help meet other needs the patient may have.
Nightingales Harvest began in May of 2011 as a non-profit, tax exempt, 501(c)3 organization that has served over 431 local households at no cost. The program markets to and receives referrals from cancer agencies, physicians, cancer centers, hospitals, and other service providers. Patients may also self-refer or receive referrals from caregivers or family members. As word of the program spreads, more individuals request services. Nightingales Harvest now needs funding to expand its reach and meet growing community needs.
Goals and Objectives
- Help boost cancer survival rates locally by providing access to, and education about, good nutrition to a minimum of two hundred cancer households per year in northwest Ohio and southeastern Michigan. This will include home delivery of perishable and non-perishable foodstuffs at no cost to the client.
- Help reduce the risk of infection during treatment to a minimum of two hundred cancer households through home delivery of personal hygiene items, toiletries and home cleaning products, at no cost to the client.
- Help bridge two hundred or more local cancer patients to survivorship by providing assessments of further needs and making appropriate referrals to additional community resources.
- Create employment opportunities for special needs individuals in Northwest Ohio by providing employment for two full-time employees and one part-time employee, and four to six participants of the Children Services Board youth program.