Free money for cancer patients
Where can you go for free money and free food? Think of it as one-stop shopping at The Free Food Store, which was started by a retired student volunteer with help from a neighboring university.
Sharon Olsen, a retired real estate appraiser who volunteers for the local hospital’s fundraising organization, Free Care Fund, received word that patients undergoing cancer treatment were upset about having to pay for their meals and wound up suffering for it.
“Free Food is for cancer patients only,” Olsen says of the community-wide event in Sugarhouse, Utah. She contacted the hospital administration, and it agreed to allow Free money for cancer patients to be exempt from the fees associated with paying for food at the hospital.
That led to a partnership between Free Care Fund and nearby University of Utah Health Care, where two different teams of volunteers are invited to the hospital to serve their patients. Free Food for Cancer patients is scheduled during the month of January.
Free Food for Cancer took three years to develop and involve the help of other groups like Team Trauma, Pediatric Cancer Services, Free Clinics, Free Food for Kids, Healthy Communities, Second Harvest Food Bank of Utah and Free Clinic.
Volunteers of Free Food for Cancer serve food to the patients in eight distinct locations, including cardiology, medicine and women’s centers, dialysis, radiation and chemotherapy clinics. These volunteers take the food to each room in the facility, where they serve the patients and their families.
The dining halls in the hospital are not equipped with microwaves or refrigerators, Olsen explains. And many patients are forced to eat lunch outside of their rooms.
“That leaves many patients who don’t have a lot of extra money,” Olsen says.
Olsen continues, “Sometimes patients need their appetite augmented. Some have tumors that can affect their taste buds. Free Food for Cancer fills the gap for many patients.”
A team of volunteer health care professionals serve hot meals of chicken and mashed potatoes, baked beans and crackers. Free Food for Cancer provides a hot, home-cooked meal and a dish of ice cream.
Money is given to the hospital’s Free Care Fund, which helps pay for patients’ food.
Free Food for Cancer is also open to the public and free for cancer patients and their families.
Free Money for Cancer was free for a week, but donations are accepted year-round, Olsen explains.
Donations are tax deductible.
“It is not a donation in the traditional sense,” Olsen says. “Donations are for things like food. The food is just provided to free the patients from paying.”
For more information, please contact Olsen at (801) 452-0292.
Research funded by philanthropists, especially by Bill Gates, has also helped provide free cancer treatments for those in poverty. Gates is the founder of Microsoft, which he founded with his longtime friend Paul Allen.