NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Empire BlueCross BlueShield, in partnership with its company’s philanthropic arm, the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation, is dedicated to making nutritious food more accessible and affordable, and to improving access to food for local communities. In light of this priority, Hunger Action Month this September and the start of the company’s annual volunteer days, the Foundation gave grants totaling $400,000 to six community organizations focused on addressing hunger, and Empire’s associates are committing to four volunteer events in October.
Food insecurity is one of the most pervasive issues affecting the health of our City. One in nine people experience food insecurity across New York City (12.5%), and that number is higher among children (18.1%),i and these numbers are likely on the rise given the impact of challenges COVID-19 has introduced. The Foundation grants will benefit organizations on the frontlines of working to ensure New Yorkers have access to nutritious food including, The Campaign Against Hunger, City Harvest, Food Bank For New York City, God’s Love We Deliver, New York Cares and Tent Ministries. Programs, which include initiatives to meet increased demand due to COVID-19, medically tailored meal distributions, mobile markets and more, are beginning now and will run through the second quarter of 2022.
“We are on a mission to materially and measurably improve the health of all New Yorkers, and ensuring our neighbors have access to nutritious food is at the foundation of this commitment,” said Alan Murray, president & CEO, Empire BlueCross BlueShield. “Nutritious food is essential to health, quality of life, and avoiding chronic illness like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. We also know that people in households struggling with food insecurity may also face psychological and behavioral health issues. It is a top priority for us to address.”
In addition to the grants, Empire associates are volunteering with City Harvest at Mobile Markets in Brooklyn and Queens and the Food Bank For New York City Farm to Food Bank events in Manhattan in October.
“‘One Mission. Five Boroughs. Feed All’ is the theme for our 2021 Hunger Action Month Campaign. We are so pleased that Empire helped kick-off Hunger Action Month with our event in Brooklyn at P.S. 398 Walter Weaver. The Empire partnership has been important for us at Food Bank For New York City, as we are able to distribute food for communities in need and emphasize the importance of good health,” said Janis Robinson, VP of Institutions & Partnerships, Food Bank For New York City.
“We are thrilled to have Empire BlueCross BlueShield employees volunteering with City Harvest in honor of Hunger Action Month—a time that is all about people coming together to help our neighbors in need. Over the last 13 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield has been a steadfast partner to City Harvest, supporting some of our most critical programs, including our Mobile Market program. With their help, our Mobile Markets provide thousands of pounds of nutritious food, as well as critical health resources, to high-need communities across the five boroughs year-round,” said Tony Ortiz, Senior Mobile Market Liaison, City Harvest.
Earlier in September, Empire associates joined Heart of America, Food Bank For New York City, iHeart Impact and the WNBA’s NY Liberty to host a food distribution for the local community at P.S. 398, an elementary school in Brooklyn, and will return this fall to build a permanent food pantry inside the school. The goal of this initiative is to provide practical, sustainable resources that will help the school to tackle food insecurity on an ongoing basis and make a long-term difference in the health of their students, families, and communities.
“Our school community is thrilled to celebrate the start of the school year with the announcement of this generous partnership. Our school is a home and safe haven for many of our students who experience homelessness or housing insecurity. So, I can’t tell you how important it is that we’ll not only have a new food pantry, but will also be serving as a food distribution center for the community. This partnership helps make our students and families truly feel welcomed and supported as they start the school year,” said Ariana Butler-Bass, Principal of P.S. 398 Walter Weaver.
Finally, Empire’s parent foundation will build on its work to address food insecurity by investing up to $30M over the next three years focused on Food As Medicine while helping individuals reach their full potential for good health through food and nutrition. Through October 1, 2021, qualified nonprofit organizations with a history of proven, programmatic community initiatives are invited to join in these efforts. To learn more, visit the Food As Medicine RFP.
About Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation
Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation, the trade name of the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation L.L.C., serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State, is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. The Foundation works to address health equity by focusing on improving the health of the socially vulnerable through strategic partnerships and programs in our communities with an emphasis on maternal child health; mental health; and food as medicine. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Empire BlueCross BlueShield Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.
i Feeding America. Food Insecurity in Service Area of the Food Bank For New York City. 2019. Available at https://map.feedingamerica.org/county/2019/overall/new-york/organization/food-bank-for-new-york-city.