Food insecurity and health outcomes intersect in Medline food drives

Food insecurity and health outcomes intersect in Medline food drives

By Medline Newsroom Staff | February 15, 2024

Environmental, Social & Governance

Food insecurity and health outcomes intersect in Medline food drives

Medline volunteers fill local food pantries with more than 9,000 pounds of donations

Medline Jeffersonville, Indiana Distribution Center Food Drive

Food insecurity affects nearly 13% of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That percentage grew between 2021 and 2022, and it’s substantially higher when focused on Black and Hispanic households. The nonprofit organization Feeding America notes that marginalized communities “are at higher risk of food insecurity due to systemic discrimination and poverty.”

“Food is a basic necessity, but so many people go without adequate or healthy food,” said Medline Senior Philanthropy Manager Karen Frey. She explained that food insecurity falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services definition of social determinants of health. “When you eat healthier, you have the potential to be healthier, and if you’re healthier, you have the potential to live a better and longer life,” Frey said.


of the U.S. population experiences food insecurity

In observance of Black History Month, Medline is highlighting its commitment to addressing food insecurity through volunteer engagement. Medline’s Black Employee Network (BEN), an employee resource group, organized members and allies around the country to host food drives that kicked off on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “It was about us coming together, honoring Dr. King and showing how we can take action in our own communities,” said BEN Co-Chair and Director of Business Planning and Operations Carol Barnett.

“Medline is not only customer service focused, but also focused on having a positive impact in our communities,” said Director of Human Resources, Operations, Southeast Region, Angela Owens. “A lot of homes in our communities benefit from food drives, and it is our goal to touch as many as we can.”

Donations exceed expectations

Although Barnett’s goal was to have 10 branches host food drives, 25 ended up joining the countrywide effort, a collaboration with the Environmental, Social and Governance team. “I was blown away by the number of sites that wanted to participate,” Barnett said.

“It was about us coming together, honoring Dr. King and showing how we can take action in our own communities.”

Carol Barnett

BEN Co-Chair and Director of Business Planning and Operations

While there were no donation targets, the quantity of donations was equally impressive. All told, more than 9,000 pounds of items—that’s 4.5 tons—were collected. The Tolleson, Arizona, branch collected 2 tons alone. “A few people can make a big difference,” Barnett emphasized.

Barnett and fellow BEN member, Medline Quality Engineer Obakanyin Akinfosile, personally talked with every participating branch to help them set up and promote the food drives and to cheer them on. From urban centers to rural communities, each team worked diligently to collect non-perishable food items and other essentials to donate to a local food pantry that partners with Feeding America.

Food drives bring communities together

The food drives not only provided immediate assistance to community members in need, but also fostered a sense of unity among the food drive participants. “I’m a believer that work is personal,” Barnett said. “The chance to do something meaningful in the community adds to doing work that has meaning.”


pounds of food donated


participating Medline branches

“Participating in food drives allows us to give back to the community, demonstrate corporate social responsibility and foster a positive culture,” added Human Resources Manager Myrt Rodriguez.

“We continue to encourage our employees to participate and recognize the social impact we can make together,” noted Human Resources Manager Kavita Idnani-Ramos.

“Helping people live better is the cornerstone of what we do as a company,” Frey said. “These food drives are a perfect mirror of that.”

Medline Rogers, Minnesota distribution center food drive

Eighty employees from Medline’s Rogers, Minnesota distribution center collected more than 1,500 food items — 19 pounds per person! 

By leveraging our resources and networks, Medline aims to contribute to systemic change, addressing social determinants of health such as food insecurity. “We can be part of the solution,” said Frey.

“Every little bit helps, and if we have an opportunity to help out in our own community, we’re going to take it,” said Human Resources Manager Alexandra Gruba.

Frey sees these food drives as just the beginning, providing a catalyst for ongoing volunteerism and building relationships that transcend business transactions. “It’s a great way to start the year, setting the tone for what we can do in 2024.”

Learn more about how Medline is helping address the social determinants of health.

Categories: Company News, Social Responsibility

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline Newsroom Staff

Medline's newsroom staff researches and reports on the latest news and trends in healthcare.

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