MORONGO BASIN — Thousands of cereal box donations will help children keep hunger at bay this summer.
Hospitals and clinics owned by the Tenet corporation in the Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley collaborated on cereal drives to provide desert children and adults with healthy breakfasts during the summer. The Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive took place June 7-14.
The grand total: 9,231 boxes of cereal, or 142,081 servings, were donated. At Hi-Desert Medical Center, people donated 1,837 boxes of cereal to the Way Station and gave $2,385 for FIND Food Bank, which supplies Morongo Basin and Coachella Valley food distribution nonprofits.
“The blessings we have received are incredible,” said Jeff Mabus, on staff with the Way Station in Joshua Tree. “This is amazing. It touches my heart.”
The medical team and staff at Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree helped Mabus and others with local food charities box up hundreds of donated cereal boxes June 14.
“This helps the nutrition for the kids when they are home,” Mabus said.
Eight out of 10 schoolchildren in the Morongo Basin live in households with incomes low enough that they qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.
“At our hospitals, we see the health issues children and their families face from hunger and poor nutrition,” Michele Finney, CEO of Tenet’s desert hospitals, said in a press release. “We recognize the importance of beginning each day with a nutritious breakfast and, through this drive, we hope to help the many in our community struggling with food insecurity.”
The Hi-Desert Medical Center held contests among departments to energize the employees and create a buzz to boost donations. A silent auction held June 13 raised more than $625, said Karen Faulis, CEO of Hi-Desert Medical Center.
The labor and delivery department won top honors in a box-decorating contest. A bright yellow Sponge Box Cereal Pants box took second.
“This was new this year,” Faulis said of the creative contest.