Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Food is Medicine: Brooklyn And Sickle Cell Disease

The nonprofit God's Love We Deliver provides over 3,700 people in Brooklyn with medically-tailored meals.
Workers from God's Love We Deliver.

Among the bustling streets that epitomize New York City's energy, thousands of residents are too sick to leave their homes. They grapple with diagnoses that severely impede their daily routines and necessities, including access to adequate nutrition, and the ability to shop and cook for themselves and their families.

To commemorate National Minority Health Awareness Month this April, we must recognize that many of these conditions, specifically sickle cell disease, disproportionately affect Black New Yorkers and Black Americans at large.

Sickle cell disease is also one of the many conditions for which funding continues to lag, which limits cutting edge research devoted to it. God’s Love We Deliver, founded in 1985 after delivering one meal to one person suffering from HIV/AIDS, now plays a crucial role in filling gaps in healthcare for 15,000 clients with more than 200 diagnoses. As New York City’s only non-profit provider of medically tailored meals and nutrition counseling, we serve clients living with chronic illness in every New York borough - free of cost.

As of this month, sickle cell disease is a qualifying diagnosis for our meal program, denoting our mission to fill the growing need for food as medicine among New Yorkers struggling with this condition. Addressing sickle cell disease is especially important in New York, home to a diverse array of neighborhoods. Brooklyn in particular stands out with Black and Hispanic residents comprising 45.6% of its population.

Sickle cell disease, a genetic condition characterized by misshapen blood cells, is most prevalent among Black and Latinx Americans. Approximately 80% of individuals diagnosed with sickle cell disease in New York State live in the New York City area. Newborns born in New York to non-Hispanic Black mothers represented 86% of sickle cell disease cases and newborns born to Hispanic mothers accounted for 12% of cases.

God’s Love We Deliver is instrumental to the well-being of many New Yorkers by aiding in the management of those born with sickle cell disease using food as medicine. Medically tailored meals are customized to suit medical conditions, medications, side effects, allergies, and other requirements of individuals coping with severe or chronic illnesses.

Our well-balanced, antioxidant-rich meals contain a wide variety of nutrients, including protein, calcium, and zinc. They can reduce oxidative stress and ease the nutritional deficiencies that those with sickle cell disease face. God’s Love meals also provide calories to promote weight gain and growth in children with the condition.

God’s Love We Deliver also supplies meals for caregivers and/or children of the same household to ease the burden of a family member's chronic condition.

Together, New Yorkers can help many members of the community manage chronic illnesses like sickle cell disease by alleviating the responsibilities of cooking and shopping and offering nutritional support that is proven to help.

Jason Fennell, a Brooklyn resident, is the manager of fulfillment at God’s Love We Deliver, the medically tailored meal provider that cooks and home delivers meals to New Yorkers living with severe and chronic illnesses. God’s Love currently serves more than 15,000 individuals and their families across the metropolitan area. In Brooklyn, God’s Love serves more than 3,700 individuals, which accounts for more than a quarter of their client base.