Food fight brings out the best in hospital staff
Yampa Valley Medical Center employees donate over 4,500 pounds of food to LiftUp
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Maximizing the spirit of healthy competition, 18 different teams at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center donated more than 4,500 pounds of food to LiftUp of Routt County during a two week “food fight.”
Collection bins for each team were placed in the hospital’s cafeteria so everyone could keep tabs on the daily contributions.
From hospital administration to human resources to housekeeping, departments were divided up to form teams of approximately 25 people.
On Friday, the Environmental Services team emerged victorious, with 765 pounds collected.
As one of the Steamboat’s largest employers, a staff food drive was chosen as the best way to support LiftUp, said UCHealth communications specialist Lindsey Reznicek.
It also supports the hospital’s goal of improving health outcomes across the community, she said.
“One cannot be both well and hungry,” said Russell Goodman, LiftUp’s food bank manager. “My hope is that other organizations would want to model this phenomenal effort, and since nutrition is at the core of human health and wellness, it’s harmonious to think that the hospital could best care for its patients by adding this holistic element to their set of interventions.”
July was specifically selected to fill a void during a time of year when donations are most needed, Reznicek said. While everyone is in the giving mood around the holidays, food bank inventory tends to be lowest in July, she said.
Provided with a list of the most desired and needed items, employees filled the bins with baking supplies, dried beans, spices, canned meat, condiments, pasta, granola bars and other “shelf stable” items.
Reznicek said they started out with a goal of 1,000 pounds.
“We got almost that in the first three days,” she said. “We have a very giving staff, and one that is also pretty competitive. I don’t think anyone thought we’d more than quadruple that goal.”
Yampa Valley Medical Center President Soniya Fidler decided to up the competition with a peanut butter challenge. For every jar of peanut butter donated, Fidler said she’d match it.
The end result was a total take of 504 jars of peanut butter.
Lynde Sales, supervisor of environmental services and leader of the winning team, which encompasses the housekeeping and laundry department, noted that some of her biggest donors were single moms.
The most generous participants were some of the people who best understand the challenges of raising a family on a single paycheck in a town with a high cost of living, Sales said.
Statewide, Goodman said as many as one in six children are part of a family that doesn’t have enough money to buy food.
According to data collected in 2016, the child food insecurity rate in Routt County was 13.4%.
Through their food banks in Steamboat, Hayden and Oak Creek, Goodman said LiftUp provides supplemental snacks to about 700 children a week and summer lunches to about 150 children every week.
Hunger exists in all parts of the county, he said, and needs can be exacerbated by the seasonality of employment and for those dealing with mental illness and addiction.
For those people facing additional challenges, Goodman said, LiftUp works to meet basic food needs while also connecting people to other services.
The majority of the food donated by hospital employees will be used in LiftUp’s shopping area, he said, where it will provide about half of the total amount of food distributed each month.
Through the July “food fight,” Goodman wrote in a letter of thanks to YVMC, the hospital staff “have mitigated food security in our community for its most vulnerable and at-risk members and have joined us in an effort to support every food insecure neighbor on their journey to self-sufficiency.”
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