Open Arms added a significant milestone to its legacy on June 7, 2022 when CEO Leah Hebert Welles and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter delivered our 10 millionth meal. The meal was delivered to longtime client, Franco Adamo-Benguerra, at his St. Paul home alongside a collection of Open Arms staff and volunteers, and press.
Franco wholeheartedly believes that without Open Arms, he doesn’t think he would be alive today. He was diagnosed with HIV and skin cancer, and then suddenly lost his spouse. Grieving and constantly sick from the amount of medication and treatments, Franco stopped eating and was unable to keep most of his food down due to the chemotherapy. He lost a severe amount of weight and was struggling with depression. Things got so bad that at one point Franco’s doctors didn’t think he would be alive in six months if he continued his current trajectory. It was at that moment that his medical team referred him to Open Arms. Franco was put on Open Arms’ weekly meal plan and immediately benefitted from the nutrition of meals that were medically tailored to meet his specific needs. Since all Open Arms’ meals are free for clients, he was once again able to afford to eat healthy and gained much of his weight back. Franco’s cancer is now in remission and he’s cooking his own meals, with Open Arms supplementing what he can buy on his fixed income.
Open Arms’s reached the one million meal milestone in June of 2006. It took us 20 years to reach our first million meals, cooking from just a single oven at our original site. Our most recent milestone, came in June of 2020 when Leah and Senator Tina Smith delivered our seven millionth meal to Patience, a client with ALS who had been receiving Open Arms meals since 2014. Right now, we are poised to serve more than 1.3 million meals in the current fiscal year alone.
Leading up to the delivery of our 10 millionth meal, Open Arms was featured by Kelly Smith of the Star Tribune in an article entitled, “Open Arms to open second site to serve more meals to people with life-threatening illnesses.“ The piece touches on Franco’s story along with the expansion to St. Paul. You can check out the full article HERE.