Abrazo Community Health Network’s hospitals collected cereal and money that will provide more than 48,000 breakfasts for hungry children this summer.

The donations were collected at nine Abrazo facilities as part of the Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive which ended this month. St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance received donations from staff and community members at Abrazo Arizona Heart Hospital, Abrazo Arrowhead Campus, Abrazo Central Campus, Abrazo Community Health Network‚s Regional Office, Abrazo Scottsdale Campus, Abrazo Buckeye Emergency Center and Abrazo Peoria Emergency Center.

In addition, Abrazo West Campus staff and community members along with Partners for Health and the Medical Executive Committee donated to Agua Fria Food Bank.  Abrazo Maryvale Campus staff and community members donated to Maryvale Revitalization Corp.

The Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive’s purpose is to feed hungry children as they head in to summer months without the benefit of a healthy breakfast, often provided by their school.

“At Abrazo Community Health Network, our goal is not only to help patients get well but also to help our community understand and take control of their health,” said Market Chief Medical Officer Dr. William Ellert. “Part of this includes recognizing the importance of good nutrition. Through this drive, we can help those who are struggling with food insecurity.”

Arizona ranks third in the country for high child food insecurity rates, behind only New Mexico and Mississippi, with 456,760 children facing hunger on a daily basis, according to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance.

“We appreciate Abrazo Community Health Network hospitals for hosting the Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive,” said Beverly Damore, St. Mary’s Food Bank President and Chief Executive Officer. “Summer is a particularly difficult time for our food bank because many children can no longer rely on their schools for meals so their families often turn to us for help. Thanks to Abrazo Community Health Network hospitals and the Healthy Over Hungry Cereal Drive, many families will have a healthy breakfast.‚”

Whole-grain cereal, when part of a healthy, balanced breakfast including dairy (such as milk and yogurt), 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.