Getting proper nutrients through healthy food is important, but purchasing those pantry items can be difficult when on a limited to budget. To help those who need assistance obtaining foods that are low in sugar, salt and fat, CoxHealth has launched its seventh annual Pack the Pantry healthy food drive, which runs through November 16, and the community is invited to participate.

“This year we teamed up with our colleagues from Cox Home Support to once again help them collect toiletry items for their patients in need,” said Janell Patton, manager of Community Relations at Cox Monett. “Between the food and toiletry items, we will be able to help many people who need a little extra assistance this year.”

Monett’s donations will benefit the Monett Community Kitchen, the Blessing Box at Cox Rehab and Sports Medicine and Cox Home Support patients.

“The Blessing Box, located outside of Cox Rehab on Cleveland Street in Monett, was created for people who have fallen on hard times that just need a meal or two to get by,” said Kevin Norris, manager of Cox Rehab and Sports Medicine. “It’s been amazing to watch, people who have taken items often return to fill the box as life gets a little better for them -- this is what the Blessing Box is all about.”

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, dried beans and all types of basic toiletry items. Public donation bins are located at Cox Monett, Cox Home Support and area physician clinics.

Food donations in Springfield will be provided to Crosslines, Branson’s food donations will be sent to pantries operated by Christian Action Ministries, and Lamar’s donations will benefit the Samaritan Shop. Additionally, food collected in area clinics will benefit a variety of local charities.