By Matt Kittell
Sam Hubbard Foundation
UC Health, the Rotary Club of Cincinnati, and the Sam Hubbard Foundation team up against food insecurity as part of the Rotary Club’s second annual Rotary Do Days – a three-day community-wide service project to connect volunteers with 35 non-profit groups that need extra hands for special projects.
The largest of those projects was on Thursday, Oct. 26, when more than 100 volunteers packed nonperishable breakfast meals for UC Health’s Food Is Medicine program and its longstanding partner, the Sam Hubbard Foundation.
Other projects from Oct. 26 through 28 ranged from clearing invasive honeysuckle along the Mill Creek to serving meals in homeless shelters, sorting clothing, packing school supplies and painting, cleaning and landscaping at various non-profit sites.
The Rotary Club of Cincinnati rallied more than 600 volunteers for this massive community service weekend. The program collaborated with CincinnatiCares.org – the online volunteer matching service that pairs volunteers with community needs. Making connections is one of the goals, said Rotary Do Days chair Linda Muth, of Union Township.
“We are introducing volunteers and the community to the work being done by some of our incredible non-profits in Greater Cincinnati,” she said. “People want to help, but so often they don’t know where to begin. Rotary Do Days makes it easy to volunteer by organizing projects with time commitments from 90 minutes to several hours and coordinating corporate volunteer teams, individuals, and sponsors for various projects.
The meal packaging project was a prime example of connections that are meeting a critical need in the community. Rotary member Rick Flynn’s Flynn & Company CPAs sponsored purchase of the 12,000 meal packets. The majority of the packaging volunteers are Rotary Club members. UC Health distributed the 12,000 meals to patients in the health system’s primary care clinics through the Food Is Medicine program, a partnership with the Sam Hubbard Foundation and the Freestore Foodbank, that supports individuals and families affected by food insecurity by providing free food, hygiene items and Freestore produce vouchers during visits to their primary care providers.
The meals also were distributed to families at local elementary schools and through The Last Mile Food Rescue as part of UC Health’s partnerships to support families in need across neighboring communities.
“It’s always special anytime you make an impact in your community,” said Cincinnati Bengal Sam Hubbard, founder of the Sam Hubbard Foundation to provide basic needs to local families. “It’s even more meaningful to make that impact with a long-standing community partner like UC Health. The entire Sam Hubbard Foundation team and I appreciate all that the Rotary Club of Cincinnati has done to facilitate this impactful gift that will serve Cincinnatians that need it most,” Hubbard said.
According to UC Health, food insecurity is a growing problem nationally and within our community. In the United States, 38 million people, including 12 million children, experience food insecurity. In the Cincinnati region, more than 270,000 households experience food insecurity.
UC Health’s Food is Medicine program screens patients for food insecurity during visits to their primary care provider. Those who need support can immediately access an in-office food pantry stocked with pantry staples and hygiene items, and they receive Freestore Foodbank vouchers for fresh produce. The program is located at the UC Health Hoxworth Internal Medicine and Pediatric Clinic in Clifton. However, patients across the health system will receive the meals donated by the Rotary Club and Sam Hubbard Foundation.