Sanford Chamberlain employees donate 200 holiday meals


The holidays can be a difficult time.

There are trips, gifts, the weather to watch, difficult family dynamics to prepare for. The list continues.

However, a point of uncertainty often arises around food. We’re not talking about which parent wins the best green bean or yam casserole contest.

Some families don’t have that luxury. Some just want to make sure they can eat while on vacation.

It’s closer to you than you think

Whether you realize it or not, you probably know someone who has been affected by holiday hunger. It might even be yourself.

According to Feeding South Dakota, a subset of Feeding America and longtime partner of Sanford Health, one in nine people are food insecure. One in six children suffers from food insecurity.

In South Dakota, where there are nine Native American tribal reservations, hunger and poverty are hitting these communities particularly hard. These numbers are often exasperated during the holiday season.

Employees at Sanford Health in Chamberlain, South Dakota know how big of a problem this is. That’s why they came together to fight hunger in their region.

Needed more than ever

Jessica Neilan is the Community Liaison at Sanford Health in Chamberlain. She said one of the things that makes Chamberlain such a special neighborhood is the amount of help neighbors give neighbors.

The annual Thanksgiving meal is not a better example. Every Thanksgiving, Sanford Health and the City of Chamberlain help prepare a free Thanksgiving meal.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, this event has been canceled for the past two years.

Following: COVID vaccine boosters available from Sanford Health

Neilan said that without this meal, a great need remained unmet.

“For some families, without it, there was no Thanksgiving dinner. So when we couldn’t get together during the pandemic last year, we had the idea, and a lot of our staff got together and said, ‘What can we do to make sure that can families still share this meal? ,” she said.

Sanford Chamberlain executives pitched the idea to their staff to donate funds to buy meals for families.

The Sanford family “really supported the idea,” according to Neilan. At first, they were hoping for 25 meals.

The target of 25 turned into 50.

Then from 50 to 75.

“Before you knew it, we were able to do 100,” recalls Neilan.

Another year, another meal

In a perfect world, Thanksgiving would have happened in person in 2021.

But the world is not perfect and a face-to-face meal was not possible amid the ongoing pandemic.

Related: The holiday season can be the perfect time to give back to the community

Meals were therefore distributed again at Thanksgiving time in 2021. But Sanford staff wanted to do more.

“We had staff come over and say, ‘Can we do this for Christmas? We have people who could really, really use it for Christmas,” Neilan said.

More staff members donated, and because of that, more families ate a full meal.

“We were able to redo a hundred kits. This year’s kits for Christmas contain items such as pork loin, potatoes, vegetables, pie, rolls and Christmas treats. They are going to be wrapped and boxed, and everyone is welcome,” Neilan explained.

Beyond the Call of Duty

This is not in the job description for Sanford Health employees at Chamberlain.

They do so out of the goodness of their hearts and because they care about their neighbors and their community.

“It’s in our missions and it’s in our values ​​to go above and beyond and help serve. Not just in the daily activities that we do, but really going beyond and finding the needs of the community.

“Do we have to do this job? Should we donate and do these things? No, but that’s who we are. This is who we are as a system.

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Posted in Chamberlain, Community, People and Culture, Rural Health

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