Baptist Health employees fight community hunger during 100 Days of Service

Baptist Health Hardin. May 02, 2024

ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (May 1, 2024) – Baptist Health Hardin employees stepped up to fight hunger by donating over 2,500 food items to a local agency to help with food insecurity in Hardin County.

The drive was part of the 100 Days of Service marking the health system’s centennial. The food was delivered today to Helping Hand of Hope, a local organization dedicated to providing social services for people facing challenging situations. Its mission is to help “alleviate personal and financial hardships by providing services that foster self-worth and human dignity.”

“Baptist Health Hardin is proud to partner with Helping Hand of Hope, which has a long history of service and assistance to our community, helping thousands of people with food, clothing, prescriptions, and much more,” said Erin Priddy, Community Health and Wellness manager for the hospital. “We appreciate the work of Helping Hand of Hope in caring for those in need. I would also like to thank our Baptist Health staff, who always act with such generosity when it comes to caring for our community.”

“Helping Hand of Hope wants to give a big shout out to Baptist Health for coming through for our community when they needed it most,” said Executive Director Hope Burke. “Helping Hand of Hope received a massive donation of canned food items. These items will go to help out the members of our community that are struggling to make ends meet and still put food on their tables.”

During Baptist Health’s 100 Days of Service campaign in April, the focus was on reducing food insecurity in the communities it serves. In addition to hospital staff, employees at Baptist Health Hardin and Baptist Health Medical Group participated.

Baptist Health Hardin ranked food insecurity among one of its community’s most pressing health concerns. This year, the hospital collaborated with Feeding America to offer community healthcare screenings in the region. According to Priddy, if people are suffering from food insecurity, they are less likely to focus on their healthcare and may not be getting routine screenings or exams from their healthcare practitioner.

Hospital efforts to battle food insecurity are rooted in the health system’s history. In its early days, Kentucky Baptist Hospital not only served nutritious meals to patients, but volunteers delivered food to patient families.

“Ensuring good nutrition isn't just about eating; it's about nourishing your body with a variety of foods. Access to healthy food is essential healthcare,” said Caitlyn Tennyson, a registered dietitian who serves as the health system’s clinical nutrition manager.

“The Baptist Food and Nutrition Services system team is proud to include a food drive in the 100 Days of Service. By coming together, we're not only helping those with food insecurity, but also showing our commitment to wellness for all.”

What’s food insecurity?

Food insecurity is defined as not only a lack of sufficient food, but also uncertainty about where the next meal will come from. In Kentucky, 1 in 8 people (579,770 individuals) are facing hunger, and 154,290 of that number are children. In Indiana, 1 in 9 people (730,480 individuals) are facing hunger, with 204,290 children among them.

Because so many children are impacted by hunger, the Baptist Health food drive emphasized items that are easily prepared without assistance, such as microwaveable items with pull tab lids. Donations were also accepted to assist food bank partners with overhead costs, and to purchase additional food items.

“We asked our employees to join this effort in whatever way felt most meaningful, whether by donating food or funds,” said Food Drive Chair Cindy Gueltzow, system vice president, Supply Chain.

In 2024, Baptist Health celebrates its 100th anniversary, and will mark each month with a health-related “gift” to its communities. In March, Baptist Health Hardin offered colon cancer education and screenings in Hardin, LaRue, Meade, and Nelson Counties.

The original Kentucky Baptist Hospital in Louisville opened its doors in November 1924 following years of rallying community support and fundraising. Baptist Health has since expanded to nine hospitals and more than 2,700 licensed beds, reaching nearly 75% of Kentucky residents and a wide swath of southern Indiana.