Heroes of the Week
The nonprofit Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders (F.E.A.S.T.) is an international organization of and for caregivers of eating disorder patients. Founded in 2008, F.E.A.S.T. is an entirely volunteer-run, donation-driven informational resource that provides a free online support forum as well as an educational Family Guide booklet series (online and in print) for families and treatment centers. More than 5,900 members from all over the world, including the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand, utilize the forum to connect with and learn from other caregivers and families affected by eating disorders.
“The main mission is to support families who are dealing with a loved one in treatment for an eating disorder,” says Executive Director Leah Dean. “We represent thousands of voices—parents who need help and support. We are not professionals and we are not a referral service, though we do work with a professional advisory panel of researchers, clinicians and other nonprofit leaders in the field. And we don’t take sponsorships or donations from any treatment provider. We are an independent voice that encourages other parents to share their experiences. We empower parents through providing evidence-based educational information to make the best treatment decisions, and advocate for parents to be part of the treatment process for their children.”
Task Forces, groups of volunteers who help advocate F.E.A.S.T.’s resources, are located around the globe. Additionally, face-to-face support groups are growing in number and Dean, who lives in Whitefish Bay, hopes to start a support group in Wisconsin soon. “We could not have done what we have done without our founder Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh and the group of volunteer forum moderators who keep everything running smoothly. They are superb at leading people to resources on our website and elsewhere,” says Dean. All the volunteers, including her, work out of their homes.
F.E.A.S.T. is always seeking volunteers as well as donations to help cover printing, shipping, handling and inventory costs for the booklets. For more information, call 1-855-503-3278, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit feast-ed.org.