Baptist ‘Egg Bowl’ Canned Food Drive Sets Records for Food Donations

“Egg Bowl” team members from Baptist North Mississippi include (front row) Kim Stewart, Lindsey White, Alicia Ciarloni, Hana Bishop, Mollie Lansdell, (back row) Katie East, Emily Roberts, Mark Ottens and Hunter Lansdell.

Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi challenged Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle to a Baptist-style “Egg Bowl” canned food drive beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Team members at both hospitals delivered on the challenge with a total of 33,361 non-perishable food items collected for food pantries by Wednesday, Nov. 15! These donations set records for single-source donations at food pantries in both Oxford and Lowndes County.

The food drive was named after the collegiate Egg Bowl played on Thanksgiving between Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi.

“The outpouring of generosity and comradery of our staff was breathtaking,” said Alicia Ciarloni, director of education at Baptist North Mississippi and coordinator of the event at her hospital. “What started as a service project for November grew into a huge, unexpected blessing.”

Baptist Golden Triangle donated 20,241 items, and Baptist North Mississippi gave 13,120 items for food pantries in Oxford and Lowndes County. The donations were delivered to Helping Hands Food Pantry in Columbus, Mississippi, and Food Pantry and Compassion Food Ministry in Oxford, Mississippi, filling pantry shelves to overflowing just in time for the approaching Thanksgiving holiday.

Ashleigh Guyton, Baptist Golden Triangle community relations coordinator, said that although the team members at Baptist Golden Triangle came out on top by collecting more than 20,000 items, “the real winners are the hundreds and maybe thousands of people who not only got a Thanksgiving meal this year, but also the food insecure in both communities who will benefit from full pantry shelves for weeks and months to come.”

Helping Hands Executive Director Jennifer Garrard said she was amazed by the enormity of the donation, which far eclipsed the prior single-source donation record of 2,500 items. She said the pantry frequently runs out of popular items, such as peanut butter and canned meat, and has to purchase those items to keep on the shelves. The hospital’s donation will help keep those popular items in stock for a long time.

Both hospitals plan to make the Baptist “Egg Bowl” an annual event. The two hospitals generated in-house competition by dividing employees into teams. Rob Coleman, CEO and administrator at Baptist Golden Triangle, and Brian Welton, CEO and administrator at Baptist North Mississippi, served as Head Coaches.

“Our Baptist colleagues at both North Mississippi and Golden Triangle took this challenge beyond our wildest dreams. This gift of love extended to our communities is an example that both Baptist teams are committed to the Baptist values of compassionate care and service even outside the walls of our hospitals,” said Brian. “I am proud to serve alongside these wonderful people. I would like to say a special thank you to our director of education, Alicia Ciarloni, whose vision kick-started this service project that will provide for many families during the holidays.”

To encourage friendly competition between facilities, both hospitals collected items during the “game” and reported the total number of items collected to each other after each “quarter.” Final “scores” were reported on Friday, Nov. 17, with the winner announced to team members on Monday, Nov. 20.

Baptist Golden Triangle employees wore their favorite college team colors on Nov. 20, and enjoyed refreshments. They also had their photo made with the Baptist Egg Bowl trophy. The winning team at Baptist Golden Triangle, led by Human Resources Director Jenni Gordman, was also treated to a breakfast earlier that day by hospital administration and members of the four other teams at the hospital.

“Thanks to our wonderful team members who gave so generously, and to team members at our sister hospital in Oxford for coming up with the idea and challenging us. What a wonderful way to give back to our communities, especially this time of year!” said Rob.