Phoenix, Ariz., Oct 23, 2015 / 15:36 pm
When his wife Angela died of colon cancer in 2012, Chris Faddis knew he had to commemorate her life with something big – not because she had died from cancer, but because he had witnessed the shocking reality of malnutrition in his own wife and in other chronically ill patients.
"With Angela's cancer, we knew it was terminal and there wasn't that much that could be done - except keep her alive as long as possible. And nutrition was a very important part of that," Faddis told CNA.
"When we left the hospital to go to hospice, I noticed a woman walking out of the dining room with a bag of food… there was a whole slew of patients who couldn't cook for themselves, so when they came in for treatment, they would take food with them and freeze it until they came back again," he said.
That is when Faddis decided to found Bene Plates, an organization that provides nutrient-rich meals to chronically ill patients across the country, delivering the prepared food right to their front doors.
During the several years of research that followed, Faddis found that a whopping 85 percent of cancer patients suffer from malnutrition, and 40 percent end up dying from malnutrition rather than from the disease itself.
"We needed to do something - we needed to provide food for these people," Faddis decided, encouraged by his dying wife and a good friend, who was also a nutritionist.
A nationally known Catholic speaker, entrepreneur and author, Faddis took on the challenge of providing nutrition for the sick in 2012. It's been three years in the making, but in November, his team will officially launch the Bene Plates meal delivery program nationwide.
"It's been a long process of research - our nutrition guide that we have developed for our company is 130-pages long," Faddis noted, saying that years of delving into scientific evidence and nutrition have helped in perfecting the vision behind Bene Plates.
In addition to Faddis, the Bene Plates team includes Dr. John Oertle, who is the director of nutrition, and Fr. Leo Patalinghug, who serves as menu advisor and chef. Fr. Leo is best known for hosting the television show, Savoring our Faith, which airs on EWTN.
Bene Plates focuses its menu on clean, toxin-free foods with a micro-nutrient dense foundation and no processed ingredients. Its meals also include a variety of spices and fresh herbs, which not only add flavor, but also have significant health benefits.
"Truly, God gave us everything that we need. Spices and herbs are anti-inflammatory, so they are going to help reduce inflammation in patients," Faddis said.
Even though Bene Plates has designed a general menu of nutrient-rich, healthy foods, the company also wants to cater the meal plan to every individual's specific needs, providing gluten-free and vegetarian options as well.
"Every patient is different," Faddis noted, saying they are trying to ensure "that the patient is able to eat the food, that it tastes good for them, and that we are giving them what they need at that time in their disease."
"The way it would work is that the patient would see a nutritionist – we have a credentialed nutritionist on our team – and have a full evaluation of everything, looking at their diagnosis and disease stage," he explained.
From there, blood tests would be taken to gauge the patient's nutrient and antioxidant levels - giving the nutritionist and chef the information necessary to plan the patient's diet, according to their own individual nutritional requirements.
After that, the food is prepared, packaged, and shipped out – delivering anywhere between 7-21 meals per week, depending on each patient's specifications. Because Bene Plates is FDA-certified, it is able to ship to any home in the United States.
Bene Plates has already launched its nutrition program and will officially begin delivering meals to the patients who have subscribed next month. The company has also started a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds and awareness leading up to the launch, offering special deals and rewards for supporters.
Moving forward, Faddis has big plans for the growth of his food revolution. The first phase is focused on home delivery.
"The goal, our initial goal, is to be serving about 1,000 patients every month. From there, we will see where we grow – we might have to open another kitchen," he said.
In the future, Faddis wants to move Bene Plates into specific facilities, such as nursing homes, where they could minister to the elderly or to patients who suffer from Alzheimer's. In addition, a cold-pressed juice menu and even a food truck are on the back-burner for Bene Plates.
Faddis would also like to provide nutritious meals for the patients who can't afford them.
"We are going to begin the Angela Faddis Foundation, so anyone who needs this food but cannot afford it would be able to apply for a grant," he explained.
Additionally, Faddis is working with Fr. Leo Patalinghug to provide meals for hospice patients who are facing the end of the lives.
"We might have patients who are at the end of their life," Faddis reflected, "and all they are getting out of food is comfort and just some sense of dignity or possibly enjoyment."
More information about Bene Plates and its 'food revolution' can be found on its KickStarter page.