Health Sciences food drive aims to meet increased need

By By Deborah Rafferty

By Deborah Rafferty

The Utah Food Bank is accepting donations at its drop-off points at almost any Jiffy Lube or Smith’s location.
The food bank needs these items the most:
* Peanut butter
* Tuna
* Canned fruit (with low sugar)
* Canned vegetables
* Canned stews/chili
* Boxed meals
* Macaroni and cheese/pasta

For more information, call 801-978-2452.
Source: The Utah Food Bank

University Health Sciences is holding a food drive through Dec. 18 to help give back to the community during the holiday season.

The goal is to donate 50,000 pounds of food to the Utah Food Bank within a two-week period, said David Entwistle, CEO of U Health Sciences. So far, it has been able to collect about 12,000 pounds of food, he said. It comes at a good time this year, as the need for donations has increased 35 percent from last year, said UFB spokeswoman Jessica Pugh.
“This year, especially with the challenging economy, we assessed and looked at different opportunities that we can have to make a further impact in the community,” Entwistle said. “This is something that we can get involved with and give back in different ways than just health care.”

Occasionally, in previous years, Health Sciences employees have received small gifts, such as a backpack or an emergency kit, said Chris Nelson, director of public affairs and marketing for U Health Sciences. Because of the state of the economy, Entwistle challenged a committee to come up with a project that would have employees focus externally instead of internally, Nelson said. The hope was that employees would donate $20 of food instead of receiving a $25 gift, Nelson said.

Employees from all of the U Health Sciences centers across the valley donate money to the food bank or volunteer there in addition to donating food. The food drive has received a lot of support from employees, Entwistle said. He has received several e-mails from them stating that they have seen the hard time many of their patients are going through and are excited for the opportunity to give back.

“A lot of employees want to do stuff,” Nelson said. “This is really a chance for employees to give back. There is a lot more energy around this than any outreach program I’ve seen.”
Although some departments have done smaller projects, this is the first year U Health Sciences as a whole has organized a large-scale project, Entwistle said. He said he hopes that this food drive will help build upon what the U has already collected as part of the Utah-BYU Rivalry Week food drive.

To promote the food drive, the Health Sciences marketing team put cardboard soup cans on employees’ desks around University Hospital and sent paper bags to employees’ homes as a reminder to donate food, Nelson said.

“This is the largest goal I’ve seen for this time of the year,” Pugh said. “They have been extremely creative and made this an excellent opportunity. They’ve made each person realize they can make a difference.”

Entwistle said he hopes to continue giving back to the community during the holiday season in future years.

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