CEO Report – Michigan Harvest Gathering
Posted on October 10, 2019
“Hunger is not a problem. It is an obscenity. How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
Earlier this month I had the privilege to join Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, former Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, and Phil Knight, PhD, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan, for the kickoff of the 29th year of the Michigan Harvest Gathering, an annual statewide campaign that raises food and funds for Michigan’s emergency food response.
This year is the 22nd year of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association’s involvement with the Michigan Harvest Gathering, with our participation directly related to our mission to advance the health of individuals and communities.
Food security is a key social determinant of health, making the Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign a natural fit for hospitals. Our efforts to address food security complement our other population health efforts, which include meeting the health needs of the state’s growing elderly population, increasing state Medicaid support for hospital-based behavioral health services, improving severe maternal morbidity and maternal mortality rates, decreasing the inappropriate use of prescribed opioids statewide, and increasing the number of Michigan hospitals submitting Occupational Safety and Health Administration data to improve workplace safety. Food security is also a central focus of the Root Cause Coalition – of which the MHA is a founding member. The coalition hosts its annual convention later this month, and we will be energetic participants.
Approximately 1.4 million Michigan residents lack access to enough food to support an active, healthy life for all household members; 16% of households are struggling to put food on the table; and 21% of children do not know where their next meal will come from. These statistics clearly show that hunger and food access is a public health issue that we must address.
When people do not have enough food and consistently must choose inexpensive food with low-quality nutritional value or develop chronic stress about where their next meals may come from, their health can suffer.
In some cases, our neighbors and people in our communities may have to make the choice between meals and medicine or between paying the rent and filling a lunch box.
Those facing food insecurity often deal with higher rates of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, poor disease management can lead to serious health threats and require the need for emergency care or medical interventions that are more costly than preventive care.
Children at risk of hunger are more likely to have poor health and struggle in school, both academically and socially, and family members in food-insecure households are more likely to struggle with psychological and behavioral health issues.
Good nutrition is vital to staying healthy and preventing illness and disease. In many instances, what happens outside of the hospital and in the community is just as, if not more, impactful to health outcomes than the care provided inside the hospitals.
I’m pleased to share that during our participation in the campaign, the MHA has contributed nearly $3 million and over 3 million pounds of food.
That sense of giving carries over to the staff of the MHA, as well. In the last four years, MHA staff alone have contributed nearly $43,000 as part of our association’s own participation in the Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign. This year, our goal is to raise $20,000 as part of our workplace efforts during the month of October.
Staff also recently spent time volunteering at the Greater Lansing Food Bank and at other organizations throughout the greater Lansing community as part of the MHA’s annual Day of Service. I joined a dozen of my colleagues at the food bank and saw firsthand the important work that our food banks perform across Michigan.
With that recent experience in mind, I was pleased to present the Michigan Harvest Gathering with a $30,000 contribution on behalf of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association and our member hospitals and organizations.
Every dollar the Michigan Harvest Gathering Campaign raises provides five meals, meaning that we will be providing access to 150,000 meals to those in need in our state.
If your hospital isn’t participating already, I encourage you to join us in this worthy endeavor. Visit our website at www.mha.org/harvest for more information about how your hospitals and their employees can participate.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
Posted in: MHA Rounds