Valley Baptist Health System in Brownsville partnered with the Food Bank RGV to come together and help those who need it the most during these trying times. Valley Baptist held its yearly cereal drive where they donated more than 1,000 boxes and raised $5,000 which will provide 26,000 servings for the community.

Leslie Bingham, CEO for Valley Baptist Medical Center, said participation in the annual cereal drive really helped bring back a sense of normalcy after what we have all been through with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our Valley Baptist team loves the community and supports so many local initiatives.  The cereal drive is so important because it really doesn’t matter how much we’re out there teaching about the importance of exercising and going to your doctor regularly – if those in our community don’t have food security, then the pursuit of other healthy activities can be a moot point,” she said.

“If people don’t have adequate access to food, then everything else we may encourage them to do won’t be as impactful without that nutrition their body needs.”

She said the Healthy Over Hungry cereal drive is one of those opportunities to really make a difference, not only in Brownsville but throughout the Rio Grande Valley.

“Our Valley Baptist-Brownsville family is proud to partner with our friends at the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley to help improve the health of our community,” Bingham said.

Libby Salinas, CEO at the Food Bank RGV, said t he Food Bank cannot do what it’s doing by themselves. She said it takes a community, it takes donors, volunteers and partner agencies to help them feed the amount of people that they are serving.

“Right now, with COVID-19, we reach out to 142,000 individuals every single week. Every single dollar, every single can of food, every single box of cereal that we receive is going to those in need. We cannot do this alone, we can’t. It’s too many people and a lot of work,” she said.

Salinas said e very single dollar, equals five meals and encourages the community to donate because any amount makes a huge difference.

Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, Inc. Manager of Volunteer Services and Doner Services Olivia Lumus-Lucio, from left, and Chief Operations Officer (CEO) Libby Salinas give thanks to Valley Baptist Health Stystem at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Brownsville Monday during their annual cereal drive to benefit the Food Bandk of the Rio Grande Valley. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

She said those interested in donating can drop off food at any of the partner agencies throughout the RGV. To know your closest one, visit rgvfoodbank.com or call them at (956)- 682-8101.

“One thing that we found out with COVID, is that it brought our community very close together. We were already close, with family here in the Valley, but we found that COVID brought us even closer together. People, volunteers, donors and organizations stepped up,” she said.

“They stepped up to the front line to help our local communities. COVID opened our eyes, and it opened the eyes across the country, about how important food banks are and how they play a role in feeding the hungry, feeding people that are in need during disasters and during COVID-19.”

Michelle Aguilar, chief nursing officer, said every year during the time of donation the hospital places boxes throughout the facility so that it is easy to donate the cereal boxes. She said it is a great opportunity to help their own community because everything donated stays within the community and that there are other ways to help.

“The Food Bank website has a link to donate and it’s super easy,” she said.

“I just think myself it is easier to click the link. It gives you the amount that you’ll be able to feed, so it is a great opportunity.”

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com