If eating a meal fuels the body, then sharing a meal fuels the soul.
That’s the philosophy behind Adventist Health Delano’s latest food box distribution effort. On Tuesday, Aug. 24, boxes were shared with 350 staff members in order to dispense nourishment and comfort during these difficult times.
While the hospital has undertaken food drives in the past, this venture is unique in that it is directed so close to home.
“We tend to focus many of our efforts towards our community, but we realize that there is also a need internally,” said Matthew Cauthron, director of community integration at Adventist Health Delano. After learning of an excess of food boxes in the community, the endeavor was turned inward. “With or without the pandemic, we have associates who may be struggling.”
According to Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization with a network of 200 food banks across the nation:
• Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 42 million people may be experiencing food insecurity, including a potential 13 million children.
• In Kern County, there are approximately 121,800 people living with food insecurity.
• The pandemic has most impacted families that were already facing hunger or were one paycheck away from facing hunger.
• Many households that experience food insecurity do not qualify for federal nutrition programs and visit their local food banks and other food programs for extra support.
The idea to alleviate burdens with the meal boxes came about after conversations with Director of Spiritual Care Danny Parada about the private trials faced by some employees. These struggles are not new, but they are hidden struggles many associates don’t discuss, instead devoting themselves to serving others.
“Within our own workforce, there are folks in need,” said Cauthron. “As they show up to care for our community, we want to make sure we take care of them."
Each food box, provided by Adventist Health’s community partners, includes items such as oats, pasta, peanut butter, canned fruits, mixed vegetables, canned soups, pasta sauce and canned tuna.
As noted on the flyers placed on each of the food boxes, those associates who are blessed enough not to need the food box contents are encouraged to expand Adventist Health’s mission to inspire physical and mental wellness by passing it on to a family member or friend who does.
“This simple act of sharing food can accomplish the great task of providing hope,” said Cauthron.