Giving Thanks: Sutter Health Shows Gratitude for Communities with Support of Food Banks
Nov 23, 2020
Emma Dugas

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, frontline healthcare workers within Sutter Health’s network have received an outpouring of support from community members in the regions they serve. Individuals and organizations have donated equipment, bought meals for physicians and staff, sent cards of gratitude and well wishes, and organized hero walks for our essential workers.

Sutter Health clinicians and staff have been deeply touched by these meaningful tributes and remain grateful to serve such tightly knit communities.

As the season of gratitude quickly approaches, Sutter clinicians, staff and volunteers are proud to be able to give back and continue the organization’s annual support of food banks, food kitchens and pantries. This year, Sutter Health is contributing to 31 food banks and other similar organizations across Northern California, Oregon and Hawaii. Due to the hardship of the pandemic, food banks are experiencing a significant increase in demand as more families rely on their services. Media reports state that the percentage of those without access to adequate food during the pandemic has doubled.

Bridging the Gap

As a not-for-profit organization, Sutter Health’s mission is to help improve the health of the communities it serves, inside and outside the walls of its clinical care sites. The health of individuals and families are often directly tied to specific social determinants like being able to access fresh, nutritious groceries or gain better access to stable housing.

Due to the terrible economic effects of the pandemic, helping families put fresh, wholesome food on their table is more important than ever and we applaud the community partners who are working hard to meet this pressing need.

Sutter’s annual investment to support food banks aligns with priority areas identified in Sutter Health’s tri-annual Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). A key focus area of many communities’ CHNA is active living, healthy eating and reducing food insecurity. One way we help keep communities healthy is by annually supporting local food banks across Northern California to help improve access to nutrition for underserved communities.

As an example of this work, at the beginning of this year, Sutter Health started a pilot program to redirect excess, unserved food from hospital kitchens and cafeterias to local nonprofits. The program, which now involves 14 Sutter hospitals, has reduced food waste from our facilities and provided consistent food delivery to 17 nonprofits, totaling more than 35,000 meals to date.

Sutter has also supported the Yolo Food Bank’s outstanding efforts to provide access to food for Yolo County residents. During the pandemic, Sutter Health Park – home of the Sacramento River Cats – became home to Yolo Food Bank’s drive-through distribution of free, fresh food to people in need. Volunteers from Sutter Davis Hospital have been proud to help sort, package and place food in vehicles during some of the weekly distributions.

Over the summer, the staff and clinicians at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley and Oakland organized a virtual food drive with the Alameda County Community Food Bank to show their community some love. The drive fostered healthy competition between different departments of the hospitals and raised $13,400 to help provide much-needed food to people struggling with hunger.

These are just some of the ways Sutter Health can bridge the gap and step in to support underserved communities in need. In 2019, Sutter Health invested $830 million in community benefit, which includes supporting health education, community clinics, traditional charity care and unreimbursed Medi-Cal costs. For more information about Sutter’s investment into Northern California communities, visit Sutter Health’s Community Benefit page www.sutterhealth.org/community-benefit.

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