$1.5 million pledge to boost food banks

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky will donate nearly $1.5 million over the next three years to Dare to Care Food Bank; Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland (FAKH); and God’s Pantry Food Bank.

It’s part of a concerted effort to increase access to nutritious food to those in need through more distribution events and increase their reach through mobile food pantries.

Nearly one in five Kentucky residents lack reliable access to healthy food, and the state has some of the highest food insecurity rates in the country among older adults – according to data available at “Close to Home,” a social driver of health information tool available through Anthem, Inc., the parent company of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

“Anthem recognizes the complexity of health and knows that living well is about more than just receiving medical care. The best health happens when we address its many drivers, including reliable access to healthy food,” said Neil Steffens, president of Anthem’s Medicare Central Region. “We’ve served Kentuckians for more than 80 years and will continue to help our nonprofit community serve our neighbors in need.”

“Far too many people in Kentucky are hurting right now – out of work, frightened, and worried about how they’re going to put food on their table,” said Brian Riendeau, executive director at Dare to Care. “Our ongoing collaboration with Anthem and their financial support gives us the badly needed resources to help our community, especially given how tough this pandemic has been on many people.”

Serving 13 counties in Kentucky and Indiana for more than 50 years, Dare to Care partners with nearly 300 local service agencies, such as food pantries and shelters, to distribute food to Kentuckiana communities, providing 23 million meals to those in need in the past year alone.

Anthem’s commitment will help the food bank conduct hundreds of mobile food pantry events and distribute more than 1.6 million pounds of fresh produce to Kentuckiana over the next three years.

It comes on the heels of Dare to Care and Anthem Foundation’s Dollars For Doers Volunteer Challenge in which every hour volunteered at the food bank was matched with a $10 donation.

“We are grateful for the continued partnership with Anthem to put fresh produce onto the tables of those in Kentucky facing hunger,” said Jamie Sizemore, FAKH Executive Director. “Food insecurity continues to be a significant issue in the state, and the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for our services upwards of 20 percent. With this three-year commitment from Anthem, we’ll be able to host 150 produce distribution events in our service area, providing nearly 1.9 million pounds of produce to 75,000 families in need.”

Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland and Anthem have a long history of collaborating to improve access to healthy food in FAKH’s service area, including a 2019 donation that helped the food bank provide more than 900,000 pounds of fresh produce and non-perishable food items at nearly 100 food distributions.

Through a network of more than 230 local partner agencies, FAKH distributes more than 19 million pounds of food to the most vulnerable community members.

“Many Kentuckians are unable to access or afford healthy food options, and the pandemic has made the situation much worse for many individuals,” said Michael Halligan, CEO of God’s Pantry Food Bank. “We are grateful for the generosity of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in supporting the Food Bank’s efforts to bring more fresh and healthy food to the plates of those experiencing hunger in our communities.”

Through partnerships with more than 450 food pantry and meal programs in 2020, God’s Pantry Food Bank distributed more than 43 million pounds of food, including nearly 14 million pounds of fresh produce to help alleviate hunger throughout Central and Eastern Kentucky. Anthem’s three-year commitment announced today will help the Food Bank provide more than 84 Mobile Pantry events and distribute more than 900,000 pounds of food to complement local pantry food distributions in areas where resources cannot meet the demands for families, older adults, and individuals in need.

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