New dads Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita kept a Thanksgiving tradition alive by delivering meals to Project Angel Food clients who are battling life-threatening illnesses and isolation as COVID-19 are on the rise. The two are longtime supporters of Project Angel Food and delivered meals on Wednesday afternoon, and previously on Thanksgiving in 2018.
Jesse and Justin say, “It’s one of our very favorite traditions — delivering with Project Angel Food for thanksgiving. 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 maintaining a safe-social distance, Jesse and Justin not only made certain clients received meals, but did so with warmth, compassion and humor – which is so important at this time. Often, a Project Angel Food delivery is the only connection a client will have during their week.
Jesse and Justin were mindful of safety protocols, but fully engaged; even taking selfies with Project Angel Food clients and their neighbors. Ayoub says, “Having one of the most recognizable guys on television show up at the door was a special surprise for our clients. 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, will not be seeing 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 says Jesse and Justin gave Project Angel Food much to be thankful for this year. “That they took time out of their schedule, with a five-month-old at son at home, really speaks to how committed these two special human beings are to others.”
On Thanksgiving Day, Project Angel Food will deliver 1,900 meals to critically ill and their caregivers, seniors and formerly homeless people throughout Los Angeles County (Thursday, Nov. 26). More than 200 volunteer drivers will be picking up meals curbside at Project Angel Food’s kitchen and facilitating social-distanced deliveries to Project Angel Food clients who are often alone and isolated during the holidays.
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, heart disease, etc. 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.