There is good and bad news coming from Moveable Feast Lexington headquarters.
The good news is that the agency has contracted with the Kentucky Department of Health, HIV branch, to offer private in-home counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS.
Executive Director Terry Mullins said his agency is one of the first in Kentucky to offer the service.
"We will go to the home for people who are too afraid to go out to the health department to get tested," Mullins said. "It's a brand-new project."
By the middle of April, Mullins and four other certified volunteers will make appointments at the recipient's home. The visit also includes counseling on available means of safe sex or the use of clean needles for intravenous drug users. The latter is important because of the recent increase in heroin users in the Bluegrass which could result in an uptick of HIV/AIDS cases here as well, he said.
Also, they will give a quick oral test for HIV/AIDS that takes about 20 minutes for results, Mullins said.
Flyers will be sent out with client meals promoting the new service, he said. "It will be asking them, 'Do you have family and friends who need to be tested but are afraid to be tested?'"
Moveable Feast serves about 100 meals a day, Monday through Friday, to people with HIV-related illnesses, their caretakers and their dependent children in Fayette County, as well as patients in hospice care regardless of their illness. About 20 of the neediest clients are also given a cold lunch for the next day.
The idea for Moveable Feast began in 1998 after a destitute HIV patient starved to death in downtown Lexington. Since it began, the charitable agency has delivered more than 200,000 free hot meals.
About 40 percent of its funding comes from public and private grants. At least it did.
Which leads us to the bad news.
The organization recently learned it is not slated to receive $24,000 from the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government. It had been given that amount each of the past five years, Mullins said.
It is not the only charity to be left off the list of recipients. In the past, Mullins said, the city funded 48 charities. This year, the number was reduced to 29.
The Social Services and Community Development Committee graded charities that had applied for $2.3 million in available grants on a points system. The highest possible was 145. The percentage of funds allotted decreased as the points decreased, with scores below 124 not funded at all.
Moveable Feast scored 123 and there were five other worthy charities that scored just above it that didn't make the cut, either.
In the big picture, $24,000 may not seem like a lot of money. But for Moveable Feast, that loss of funding represents 12,308 meals and the packaging to transport it. The organization serves 30,000 meals each year.
The cuts are only recommendations to Mayor Jim Gray from the committee. The final say-so is left up to the council.
"We are lobbying hard," Mullins said. "If that doesn't come through, we will have to come up with a major fundraiser. And $24,000 is hard to raise when you don't have that big of a base to call on."
The organization's next scheduled fundraiser is "Food + Art = Life." Local residents will open their homes for literary readings, art shows and music every Sunday afternoon in September. Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres will be served. Mullins said it is the first time for the event and tickets are $100. Although all details have not been worked out, you can call (859) 252-2867 for more information.
If you can't attend that event, Mullins will accept any and all donations to help with the potential shortfall. Volunteers are always needed as well.
Surely we all can appreciate what this group has done on a shoestring, and surely we can dig in our pockets to help that work continue.