‘We’re not just delivering food – we’re delivering joy’

‘We’re not just delivering food – we’re delivering joy’

Health

Jeff Malinski, general manager of support services at Tidelands Health, has welcomed the responsibility of coordinating community food donations to the health system.

His team delivers much more than food.
In late March, as the number of COVID-19 cases in our region continued to surge, Jeff Malinski assumed a welcome set of new responsibilities at Tidelands Health. Malinski, general manager of support services, became the person in charge of coordinating the growing number of community food donations to the health system.
“There was so much interest in supporting our team by donating food that we needed to create a way to manage the process,” Malinski says. “So we set up a form online where people can sign up to donate, and I became the person in charge of helping them make it happen.
“It is a great job to have.”

Coordination

Working with colleagues at the health system’s hospitals, Malinski starts off his mornings by reviewing a spreadsheet that outlines the food deliveries expected that day. He coordinates with his team so they are prepared to receive the donations and deliver them to others.

Jeff Malinksi starts out every day by reviewing a spreadsheet outlining the day's food donations.

Jeff Malinksi starts out the day by reviewing a spreadsheet outlining expected food donations.

For safety reasons, the health system can only accept commercially made food, including food from restaurants, grocery items and pre-packaged snacks.
Every afternoon, Malinski calls the people who have filled out the online interest form, discusses their wishes and adds them to his spreadsheet.
“It’s a big part of my day,” he says. “It’s great to speak with so many folks out in the community who want to support our team.”
A broad array of food has been donated – subs, snack bags, cookie trays, burgers, sandwiches, pizza and more — often more than once from the same establishment.

In some cases, the establishment sponsors the donation, and in other cases community members or organizations donate it.
“It’s hard to put into words how appreciative we are of the community’s support,” said Pam Maxwell, senior vice president and chief nursing officer for the health system. “Every donation means so much to our team.”

Equitable distribution

One of Malinski’s priorities is to distribute donated food as equitably as possible within the health system’s hospitals. Although hospital emergency departments and critical care units have naturally received a lot of attention during the pandemic, many other departments within the health system are also involved in the organization’s COVID-19 response or are otherwise continuing to care for patients during the pandemic.

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“There are so many different people from different areas of the health system working really hard for our health system, community and patients right now,” Malinski said. “It’s really amazing, and I think it’s important everyone is recognized for their commitment.”
Although managing the food donations has added to his list of daily responsibilities, Malinski says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We’re not just delivering food – we’re delivering joy,” he says. “It’s a wonderful blessing to be part of that, and it’s only possible because of the tremendous generosity and compassion of our community.”

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