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HOLLYWOOD, Calif. –During less-abnormal times, washing your hands has always been normal protocol for Project Angel Food volunteers. But for Ryan Keating, washing his hands is now more important than ever. 

"The idea is to wash your hands for about 20 seconds front and back, vigorously," Keating said.

He's volunteered for the organization for over a year. To keep him and the rest of the volunteer workforce safe, the organization has provided masks and is taking temperatures upon arrival. 


"The fact that we're even up and running is pretty remarkable considering what's been happening," said Keating. 

Project Angel Food has been around since 1989. The organization cooks and delivers 15,000 meals a week to Angelenos affected by life-threatening illnesses like cancer, heart and lung disease, and diabetes.

Each meal is medically tailored to individual clients who are too sick to shop or cook for themselves.

Ninety-eight percent of the project's recipients live at or below the poverty line. Many are over the age of 60 and live alone.

Many fall into the demographic of the population most prone to suffering serious health issues were they to contract the coronavirus. 

"We're doing the shopping, the cooking, and the preparing for them, and the delivery. If all of a sudden that stopped it would really crash their world," said Richard Ayoub, another project member.  

Volunteers have always been at the core of Project Angel Food's mission, making up 80 percent of operations.

But during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ayoub has lost about 400 volunteers, many of whom are 65 and older themselves have been advised by the state to to remain at home.

Not only does he need more volunteers who are healthy, but he faces the unique challenge of keeping them safe. 

"We're doing social distancing, we're keeping people at least three feet apart," said Ayoub. "We're trying to do the six feet, but with the kitchen like this it's very challenging to do that." 

Once Keating is done helping in the kitchen, he packs up his car and takes off for his first delivery of the day.

His first stop is to an apartment in West Hollywood.

"This is the normal weekly delivery. And this is the new shelf-stable foods," Keating said. 

The shelf-stable foods are something all clients are getting during the pandemic, three weeks of dry-foods in case of an emergency.

At the door, Keating greets Becky.

Usually he just drops off the goods at the door, but today we went in so we could talk to her.

She is a type-1 diabetic and has kidney failure, so her meals are for a specific high-renal diet.

"I can't go to the store, I have a port in my chest so I can't get bumped into or anything," said Becky. "And it's open to my heart so I appreciate the deliveries so much. I would be without food otherwise." 

Becky is just one of 1600 people Project Angel Food serves. In these times, the deliveries are vital.

"That's why we do this," said Keating.

Volunteers acting as angels, using their good health, to make and deliver food for an even greater cause.

If you'd like to volunteer at Project Angel Food, visit angelfood.org/volunteers-needed-during-the-covid-19-crisis


For the latest updates on COVID-19 in California visit: coronavirus.gov