Premier Health partners with food banks

DAYTON — Premier Health is partnering with The Foodbank and Shared Harvest to provide food to those who struggle with hunger and food hardship in Southwest Ohio.

“It is estimated that one in five households in the Dayton Region face hunger, and many food bank clients choose between paying for life-saving medications or food,” said Jim Pancoast, president and CEO of Premier Health. “At Premier Health, we are committed to helping those who rely on us for care—and assisting Shared Harvest and The Dayton Foodbank is just one of the ways we can demonstrate that commitment. I am proud of the employees, physicians and volunteers of Premier Health who give of themselves to help others.”

From Oct. 24 through Nov. 10, Premier Health will conduct a food drive amongst its 14,000 employees with food collection bins at Miami Valley Hospital, Miami Valley Hospital South, Good Samaritan Hospital, Good Samaritan North Health Center, Atrium Medical Center, Upper Valley Medical Center, Fidelity Health Care, Samaritan Behavioral Health, and offices within Premier HealthNet, Premier Health Specialists and CompuNet.

To kick off the event, Premier Health employees will be volunteering at The Foodbank and Shared Harvest on Oct. 24, which is National Make A Difference Day.

“Throughout Montgomery, Greene, and Preble counties, our member hunger relief charities serve more than 20,000 meals every day to children, families and seniors,” said Michelle L. Riley, CEO of The Foodbank. “We cannot respond to the enormous need for food assistance without the generous support of community partners like Premier Health. They are Hunger Heroes in the Miami Valley.”

Shared Harvest Food Bank serves Butler, Warren, Preble, Darke, and Miami counties.

“It never ceases to amaze me how our community comes together to ensure the least of us has food in their cupboards,” said Tina Osso, executive director of Shared Harvest Food Bank. “Premier Health is a prime example of folks coming together to give of their time, talent and treasure to battle hunger right here at home. Clearly there is a connection between nutrition and health, and Premier Health is rolling up their sleeves and opening their hearts to help us make that connection for our most vulnerable neighbors.”

This is all part of a larger initiative of Premier Health’s Community Benefits Subcommittee of the Premier Health Board of Trustees to combat food deserts in the greater Dayton region.

Food deserts refer to neighborhoods without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. And according to the 2014 Montgomery County Community Health Assessment, almost 60 percent of the low income population in Montgomery County lives in a food desert.

“At Premier Health our mission is to build healthier communities,” said Sylvain Trepanier, vice president & system chief nursing officer for Premier Health who serves as the executive lead on the subcommittee. “We are so excited to partner with The Foodbank and Shared Harvest to increase food access so that we can make a significant impact, and in return, assist in building healthier communities.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, non-profit hospital systems are required to conduct a community health needs assessment and adopt an implementation strategy at least once every three years. In the last assessment, the subcommittee recognized that many Dayton area families are hungry and need greater access to healthy and nutritious foods.

In fact, a recent study by the Food Research and Action Center revealed that the Dayton Metropolitan area ranks worst in Ohio and 9th in the country in terms of food hardship.

“As a parent, it is heartbreaking to think that there are children in our communities who go to bed hungry on a regular basis,” said Mary Boosalis, executive vice president & chief operating officer of Premier Health. “I believe one of the greatest gifts is that which is given to those in need. Knowing that each of us can do a little to make a collective difference is something that gives me hope — hope that nutritious food will be more accessible to those in need through our concerted efforts.”