— According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an estimated 33.8 million people across the U.S. lack regular access to safe and nutritious food needed for an active and healthy lifestyle. This trend is acutely felt in nine particular states, including Kentucky, where the rate of food insecurity is above the national average.
For the team at AdventHealth Manchester, taking action to address this key challenge is about more than just improving the statistic: it’s another way they’re contributing to an over 50-year legacy of providing healing and wholeness to the facility’s surrounding communities.
In partnership with the Manchester Seventh-day Adventist Church, AdventHealth Manchester leaders and team members volunteer at the Adventist Community Services food pantry to serve over 600 families every month. Specific volunteering tasks include sorting, boxing and distributing a variety of food items and assisting with parking management.
Kenneth Henson, Betty Frazier and Jamie Hacker are a few of several community members who utilize the pantry on a regular basis. Henson said, “We are out of everything [at home] and this helps us.”
Hacker added, “This help gets us through every day.”
Tom Kyser, a pastor at the Manchester Seventh-day Adventist Church, said the volunteering efforts of the AdventHealth Manchester team have been pivotal to the operations of the food pantry. “Finding volunteers for our pantry has been the single most difficult thing in running this ministry,” Kyser said. “Every volunteer who comes from AdventHealth is super helpful. They come with a smile on their face and are willing to do any task.”
Marlon Robinson, director of pastoral care at AdventHealth Manchester, has been closely involved with coordinating volunteers for this important cause. He also spends a lot of time volunteering at the pantry. “I want to make a lasting difference in this world for Christ,” Robinson said. “I've interacted with team members who appreciate the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in our community.”
The AdventHealth Manchester team also provides free hot meals to communities through an annual Christmas meal drive. Some of the leaders who volunteer during this event and on pantry days shared their excitement about opportunities to deliver compassion to people outside the walls of the hospital.
Debbie Branum, a nurse education manager at AdventHealth Manchester who frequently volunteers during this event, expressed how much showing "compassion for those in need" drives her motivations.
Brenda Jones, environmental service manager at AdventHealth Manchester, emphasized how important it is to her to support her community, acknowledging the "many people who need help." Cynthia Hall, office manager at AdventHealth Manchester, volunteers for this same reason. She added, “I love helping others.”
Graham Allen, director of business development and operations at AdventHealth Manchester, said, “I find volunteering to be rewarding and an opportunity to reset my spirits. Volunteering is important to our mission because it allows us the opportunity to meet the communities we serve where they are. Serving others is a key reason many of us continue to work in health care.”
In 2021, Mary Ann Roberts, home care administrator at AdventHealth Manchester, said she was delivering Christmas dinners to families when she experienced an unforgettable moment. “I had four families break into tears because they had no idea where their food was coming from for Christmas,” she said. “They were so thankful for the delivery, and every single one of those families also invited me to eat with them even though they had very little.”
In ensuring that hundreds of families never have to see their food run out, the AdventHealth Manchester team continues to play a significant role in helping their communities feel whole.