Paying it Forward for Thanksgiving

Hey, y'all! Happy Friday! As many of you know, things are a little hectic right now over in Tallahassee/FSU after the events that transpired Thursday morning in Strozier Library. Despite all the negativity, I had the opportunity to be a part of something that definitely helped turn the mood around into a more thankful and giving holiday spirit. With Thanksgiving coming up, you all know how important that is! CHS employees volunteered with a mobile pantry earlier this year affiliated with the nonprofit organization, Feeding America. While I always knew how great of an experience it was to give back to the community and just how much the community needs our help, I got to learn it firsthand this past week. Over the past few days, I have volunteered at the Tallahassee food bank associated with Feeding America, called America's Second Harvest of the Big Bend. Most recently, I worked at their inaugural "Turkey Drive," where people donated frozen turkeys to people in need of food for Thanksgiving. I know a ton of you are wondering how this relates to health care at all, so here it is. Nutrition is a huge part of staying healthy and even though we may not realize it, hunger in the State of Florida is much more prominent than you might imagine. According to Feeding America's research, 1 in 6 Florida residents are food insecure. This means that they do not know where or when their next meal is coming. People are supposed to eat every few hours to keep themselves going and without any food to eat, it is difficult to complete even simple tasks, let alone exercise and maintain your health. Everyone who got involved with the mobile pantry had such a rewarding experience and really made an incredible impact on the South Florida community. This Thanksgiving season (and year-round), you can, too! Ways to get involved: 1) Organize a canned food drive at work, in your neighborhood, at a school, etc. I just did it with my sorority and over 2 weeks, we donated over 1,000 pounds of food to the food bank, which makes a HUGE difference. 2) Consider a monetary fundraiser of some sort. Someone at Second Harvest told me that a single dollar can provide anywhere from 4 to 8 meals. Canned goods are fantastic donations, but one can of beans can't really hold a candle to 8 meals. 3) Volunteer at your local food bank or distribution center (food pantries, mobile pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, schools or all of the above). Also talk to their leadership teams about special events in your community, like the Turkey Drive in Tallahassee. 4) Spread the word! Not all of us have the means to donate, but the more people realize how big of a problem hunger still is in our communities, the more people can get involved in fighting it. For more local statistics and information about where you can donate or volunteer in your community, check out: www.FeedingAmerica.org Also, take a look at Catholic Health Services' Facebook page and website (www.CatholicHealthServices.org) for pictures and more about CHS's experience volunteering with a Feeding America mobile pantry!