Art-inspired meal bags delight clients, inspire volunteer


Volunteer Shadi Letson with Project Angel Heart meal bagsWhen volunteer Shadi Letson read about Project Angel Heart’s meal bag decorating program, she knew instantly that it was the right job for her. “I thought, ‘What a wonderful touch.’ That’s something I can do!”

The program gives people with limited time, including groups in need of one-time projects, a way to support Project Angel Heart clients. Weekly meal deliveries arrive in bags decorated by volunteers, including children, corporate groups, disabled adults, and also people like Shadi looking for a creative way to help others.

Shadi’s meal bags, each of which takes four hours to create, are an inspiration for clients and volunteers, but also a way for Shadi, an art lover, to explore different styles of art. Her first set of 25 bags featured botanicals, with colorful images of beets, greens, mushrooms, and other edible plants.

Her next set of bags sported graphical shapes and lines inspired by the work of Joan Miró, a Spanish artist. She’s excited to begin work on the next set, which will be inspired by the work of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Project Angel Heart "botanicals" meal bags decorated by volunteer Shadi LetsonOne of the most unique elements of Shadi’s bags is the handmade glaze she uses to seal the designs. Made from a mixture of pureed white yam noodles and water, the glaze is non-toxic. “I know the people who get these bags are ill,” said Shadi. “They don’t need anything else toxic in their lives.”

A retired educator, Shadi became interested in Project Angel Heart during the early 1990s. Losing two friends to AIDS inspired her to volunteer. She’s helped in many ways, working in the kitchen, providing financial support, and now decorating meal bags.

“I love the Project Angel Heart mission,” Shadi said. “You’re feeding people. I have so much to be grateful for. [Decorating meal bags] is a small thing.”

Interested in decorating meal bags? You don’t need to be an artist to make a difference…people of all ages and artistic abilities are welcome! Contact us at