In 1991, when Charles Robbins returned to Denver from Los Angeles, he found that friends living with HIV/AIDS were wasting away before his eyes. He founded Project Angel Heart in response, modeling it after Project Angel Food, a Los Angeles organization where he had been a volunteer. (Click here to read Robbins’ full story on founding Project Angel Heart.)
At first, Charles and a group of friends solicited food from local restaurants and distributed it on the weekends. Project Angel Heart’s first meal was a pan of lasagna donated by Racine’s restaurant and delivered to 12 clients. Soon we needed our own kitchen, and St Barnabas Episcopal Church in Capitol Hill welcomed and embraced us.
Project Angel Heart grew steadily over the next three years. By 1994, we were preparing and delivering meals six days per week, and demand for nutritious meals for those living with HIV/AIDS was increasing rapidly. In 1996 we moved to a larger kitchen in Our Savior’s Lutheran Church to keep up with the growth in demand for our services.
By 1999, we recognized that the need for our services extended beyond people living with HIV/AIDS. The need for home delivered meals for people living with other serious illnesses like cancer and congestive heart failure caused us to expand our mission to include people living with any life-threatening illness. This expansion required more physical space than was available in the Our Savior’s Lutheran Church kitchen, so community members raised $600,000 for Project Angel Heart to relocate to a spacious, modern, affordable, and easy to clean kitchen in Northeast Denver in 2001.
Project Angel Heart continued to grow, converting to a primarily frozen meal delivery system that year and launching service in Colorado Springs in 2005. Our program’s growth caused us to run out of space again in 2007, so we launched a campaign to raise the funds needed to buy and renovate a 30,000 square foot facility in Denver’s Globeville neighborhood. Thanks to generous partners in the community, we met our $7.1 million campaign goal, designed our state-of-the-art kitchen, and moved in to our new home at 4950 Washington Street in 2012.
In 2018, we expanded the amount of food we provide to each client by 40%, going from five meals in each meal bag to seven. We also launched our innovative Meals for Care Transitions program, in which health care providers and payers can partner with us to address the nutritional needs of patients after they’re released from a hospital or other care facility.
In 2021, we’ll prepare and deliver 550,000 meals for more than 3,500 people. Of that, we’ll provide 106,800 meals to an estimated 673 clients in Colorado Springs. On July 16, 2021, Project Angel Heart will expand to parts of Boulder and Weld counties, including Boulder, Erie, Louisville, Lafayette, and Superior. Currently, 66% of clients require a specialized diet to accommodate individual and medical dietary restrictions.