Across the country, the lack of access to nutritious food continues to plague families and communities. Locally, more than 250,000 people living in Seminole and Orange counties experience limited access to healthy food according to the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment. To help combat food insecurity in the local community, Adventist Health System (AHS) held food drives at its corporate office to provide much-need nourishment to those who need it most.
Through its community involvement program, AHS food drives held in March and September combined to collect more than 9,000 pounds of nonperishable food items for families in need, up from 7,600 pounds collected in 2016. Donated food items included instant oatmeal, peanut butter, rice and canned vegetables, which benefit AHS community partners Spring Lake Elementary School and Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
“Far too many people living in the surrounding communities don’t have adequate access to healthy foods, so we are working in conjunction with our community partners to help fill that void,” said Michael Griffin, vice president of public policy and advocacy for Adventist Health System. “In fulfilling our mission, we strive to make an impact that goes beyond our hospital walls and makes communities healthier, and I am thankful for all the employees who contributed to this effort.”
At Spring Lake Elementary School, located in Altamonte Springs, Florida, where Adventist Health System is headquartered, approximately 80 percent of its students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The school has an on-site food pantry that provides students with easy-to-prepare meals in the evening and on weekends. Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida collects and distributes donated food items to more than 550 local food assistance programs across the region, including emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, shelter programs and senior programs.
Adventist Health System’s community involvement program gives employees the opportunity to participate in a wide range of service and volunteer initiatives during work hours, all aimed at giving back to the local community. In addition to food drives, opportunities to make a difference include providing enrichment for local school children, participating in park and highway cleanups, contributing to blood drives and donating to the United Way.