OAK PARK, Ill.– June 9, 2015 – West Suburban Medical Center (West Sub) led a community effort to provide area children struggling with hunger with a healthy breakfast during the summer through its Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive benefitting the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry, a member of the Feeding America network. 
“At West Suburban Medical Center, we recognize hunger exists in every city in America, and our staff is eager to join the fight against hunger and make a difference in our community,” said Patrick Maloney, chief executive officer of West Sub.
“We recognize the importance of good nutrition on good health and hope that, through this drive, we can help those struggling with food insecurity.”During a weeklong campaign West Sub employees donated 9,522 servings of breakfast cereal. Monetary donations were also accepted. For every dollar donated, 5 servings of cereal can be provided.”I was overwhelmed as the cereal boxes began to stack up in my office,” said Sarah Dean, Manager of Community Services. “Raising nearly 10,000 servings of cereal for the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry in less than a week proves that our employees truly are rooted in care, compassion and community.” 
The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry serves residents of 12 different zip codes including portions of the city of Chicago and a majority of the surrounding suburbs. It is estimated that over 6,000 individuals, in Oak Park, are “food insecure” and do not know where their next meal is coming from. Efforts like the Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive make an impact as to the number of individuals that are able to receive food.

“We appreciate West Suburban Medical Center for hosting the Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive and are grateful for all that it does for our community,” said Michele Zurakowski, Executive Director of the Oak Par River Forest Food Pantry. 

“Summer is a particularly difficult time for our food bank because many children can no longer rely on their school for meals so their families often turn to us for help. Cereal is so expensive, so we’re thrilled to pass this donation on to our families in need. Thanks to West Sub and the Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive, many families will have a healthy breakfast.”

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2014, 15.8 million children, under the age of 18, in the U.S. are unable to access enough nutritious food necessary for a healthy life. Whole-grain cereal, when part of a healthy, balanced breakfast including dairy, fruit and lean protein, is a popular food item that experts say can easily address the hunger gap during the summer months when children are not in school. Healthy cereal contains one serving of whole grain, no more than 200 calories per serving, six grams or less of sugar and at least three grams of fiber per serving. It should also be free of artificial colors and dyes.

In Illinois, 1 in 7 people struggle with hunger. With many hungry mouths to feed, local programing and support is essential. The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry provides hunger relief, benefits counseling, and nutrition education to eligible families in the Cook County area.
About West Suburban Medical Center
West Suburban Medical Center is a 234-bed teaching hospital located in Oak Park that is accredited by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center and Chest Pain Center. Its Cancer Center is accredited by the Commission on Cancer (COC). West Suburban Medical Center offers a comprehensive array of advanced inpatient and outpatient services. West Suburban is a leading community hospital in minimally invasive and robotic surgery, family medicine, gynecology, gastroenterology, obstetrics, natural birth and midwifery, oncology, urology and rehabilitative medicine.
West Suburban Medical Center is owned by Tenet Healthcare Corporation, a leading health care services company, which through its subsidiaries operates 77 acute care hospitals, 187 outpatient centers and Conifer Health Solutions, a leader in business process solutions for health care providers serving more than 600 hospital and other clients nationwide.
About The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry
Located in Oak Park, Illinois, the Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry’s mission is to work together as a community to reduce hunger locally through direct hunger relief services, hunger awareness education, and advocacy to influence anti-hunger policy. Each month, volunteers donate over 1,700 hours of labor helping to feed their hungry neighbors. With over 20 supporting philanthropic partners, the panty is able to provide food to residents of 12 surrounding zip codes. For more information visit The Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry website or call (708) 386-1324.

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