With Honey-Nut Cheerios dripping out of her mouth as a blindfolded friend spooned small heaps of cereal toward her, Savannah Crouch, an employee at Resolute Health Hospital, tried to gulp down the breakfast food as fast as she could while not laughing.
“Chew it up! Faster! Come on Savannah, swallow! They won’t let you have cereal in the military, this is the last time you’re going to get to eat cereal, so eat it like you mean it!” Crouch’s blindfolded partner chanted at her.
Crouch was one of the approximately 20 staff members at Resolute who participated in the hospital’s inaugural cereal-eating contest. The contest has grown out of efforts to raise awareness, funds and food for families who suffer from food insecurity during the summer months, said Kendra Klose, Resolute Health Hospital Human Resources Generalist.
“We wanted to raise awareness here at Resolute about the need here, in Comal County and help raise funds and food for the New Braunfels Food Bank, which keeps food local and serves the families here,” Klose said.
Although this is the first contest inside Resolute, the hospital’s employees have participated in the San Antonio contest the past two years. The winners of Resolute’s inaugural challenge get to go on to participate in this year’s San Antonio challenge, Klose said.
“This is the (third) year Resolute has participated, but the first year we’ve done like a semi-final here,” Klose said. “We have (the larger) one next week with our sister hospitals in San Antonio, and this will be our second time to do that one. It’s a relay race to finish a box for that one with five other hospitals, the Baptist hospitals.”
Summer months are often a time of struggle for families who are used to depending on the school system to help feed their children, Klose said.
“They’re not in school, where they were getting one, maybe two meals a day at either a very low price or possibly pre-paid for, and now they’re home and it can be harder for some families,” Klose said.
The campaign to raise food for local food banks within Tenet Healthcare system started in 2010 by a nurse in Detroit. In 2014, Tenet moved to make the campaign nationwide and dubbed it “Healthy over Hungry.”
“Tenet has raised $1 million since then for food banks,” Klose said. “We raised $525 and 110 boxes last year so we’re hoping to beat that this year. We have a goal of 200 boxes this year and the drive will run through June 14.”
This year’s winners were contest partners Robert McFarlane, Resolute facilities director, and Emiliano Torres, patient safety officer.
“We pre-planned how we’d do it here, you have to hold the cup with one hand and have the person eating it meet the spoon,” Torres said, just moments after the contest.
The contest isn’t hard, it just takes getting into a rhythm, McFarlane said.
“I’ve been training for this my whole life,” McFarlane joked. “The key is to not eat it dry, make sure its got lots of milk on it … and you also have to do the squirrel thing, fill your cheeks.”
Anyone can participate in helping supply funds or cereal to the New Braunfels Food Bank through the drive by dropping off a check or non-perishable food items at Resolute through Friday, Klose said.
“Bring non-perishable food items and donate them in the red bins located around the hospital,” Klose said. “The focus is of course on healthy cereals like Cheerios, Kix, oatmeal — anything whole grain — but any non-perishable food items are good too.”