The Gift of Groceries at the White Memorial Hospital: Los Angeles, CA
The Sri Sathya Sai Centers of Arcadia and Glendale have sought various ways to assist those severely impacted by COVID-19. In April 2020, they provided groceries to 130 low-income families in Huntington Park, CA, More recently, the Sai Center members were led to a wonderful opportunity to provide groceries to the employees at the Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles, through the efforts of Dr. Nilem Patel, an endocrinologist at the hospital. The White Memorial Hospital had previously partnered with the SSSIO-USA Pacific South Region by sponsoring blood tests and pap smears at the Region’s medical camps for underserved community.
Dr. Patel approached Hana Mizban, Administrative Director of Engagement at White Memorial Hospital, with the idea of distributing groceries to employees and front-line workers whose lives had been severely up-ended by COVID-19. Dr. Patel had previously worked with Ms. Mizban on other food initiatives. For example, since March 2020, many individuals, companies and restaurants have provided free lunches for the staff and first responders at the White Memorial Hospital as a way to show public appreciation for the heroic efforts of these front-line workers.
Ms. Mizban was enthusiastic about the novel idea of providing groceries, including pasta, rice, beans, peanut butter and other dry staples to the employees, who could use these staples over time and ensure adequate nourishment for their families. Members of the Arcadia and Glendale Sai Centers would quietly drop off several 50-lb. bags after regular administrative business hours. So far, this service has been carried out twice: the first time, they dropped off 50 bags of grocery provisions, and the second time, they dropped off 100 bags. Ms. Mizban ensured that the groceries were distributed to hospital workers who were most in need. Grocery distribution was rotated among the departments such as the environmental, patient transport, and dietary teams.
Dr. Patel recounted a story of an employee who, when offered a bag of groceries, reached in to pick one jar of peanut butter, with appreciation and enthusiasm. When she learned the whole bag was hers, she was giddy with happiness. Ms. Mizban described the looks of shock and appreciation when employees came to collect the groceries. Employees cried when they realized that these groceries could feed their families over several meals. Ms. Mizban reflected on how this project was a perfect example of how giving is better than receiving. She shared “even I benefit from this wonderful distribution of groceries. I get to enjoy the experience of watching the joy on their faces, and I get to be an instrument in this act of filling stomachs and hearts!”