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New program feeds cancer patients

Nonprofit provides free nourishment, companionship
July 3, 2019

When cancer survivor Cindy Winkler learned volunteers were needed to prepare and deliver free, nourishing meals to cancer patients, she jumped in right away.

“When I was going through chemo, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook,” Winkler said. “Healthy food is very important for recovery.”

Now 13 years cancer-free, Winkler prepares salads and sides for A Wave of Healthy Meals, a new program launched by local Denise Vansant. The program fed its first patients June 12. 

Vansant said after watching friends and family battle cancer, she wanted to use her talents as a cook to help. She knew nutrient-packed, antioxidant-boosting foods could boost the immune system, and she knew how to prepare these foods deliciously. 

And, she knew she needed help. Vansant created the program as a nonprofit to solicit donations to purchase healthy foods and recruit volunteers to help prepare and deliver organic, paleo-inspired meals. The Dewey Beach Lions Club opened its commercial kitchen to the program.

“If not for the kindness of the Lions Club, I would not be here,” she said.

Right now, the program is serving four patients; Vansant would like to serve six more. Each patient will receive three entrees, a side or salad, and healthy dessert for up to eight weeks. Meals do not use white sugar or white flour.

After meals are prepped and cooked, Vansant’s “delivery angels” take food to patients and spend time with them. Delivery angel Becky Carney said patients are excited to receive their meals.

“They are so happy to see us,” Carney said. “For some patients, we might be the only people they see all week. We visit as long as they would like us to. We’re good listeners.”

In between eight-week sessions, Vansant said, she will evaluate her menus, incorporating feedback from patients. All kitchen workers are certified in safe food handling and preparation.

The program is completely funded through donations. Shoppers can donate to A Wave of Healthy Meals on Amazon Smile. To volunteer, apply for services or donate, go to awaveofhealthymeals.weebly.com.