Healthy food is needed by all, but not everyone can afford items they need.

To help people in the Ozarks obtain food that is low in sugar, salt and fat, CoxHealth's eighth annual Pack the Pantries healthy food drive is now under way. It runs through Sept. 30, and the community is invited to participate.

In Springfield, donations go to Crosslines, but ultimately benefit patients at CoxHealth’s Family Medical Care Center. Physicians at the clinic are now able to diagnose patients with food insecurity and write them a “prescription” that may be redeemed at Crosslines for healthy food.

“Unfortunately, food insecurity is a huge issue across the Ozarks,” said Tom Faulkner, director of Crosslines. “We are very grateful for this community’s support. Every single item donated makes a difference for people who often don’t have enough to eat, especially when they are on a restricted diet due to health.”

Some suggested items include no-sugar-added applesauce, 100-percent-fruit cups, low-sodium or no-salt-added canned vegetables, reduced-sodium spaghetti sauce, tomato paste, brown rice, whole-wheat noodles, canned chicken and dried beans.

In Springfield, public donation bins are at Cox South’s north and West Pavilion entrances, at Meyer Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital’s west entrance and at Cox North’s outpatient entrance. A dedicated drop-day will also be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 26 in Springfield, when Crosslines trucks will collect donations at the hospitals.

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