As we face the COVID-19 pandemic, American families are experiencing great anxiety and hardships. For many people, food has never seemed so important. And as economic uncertainty continues, food insecurity in America is likely to hit unprecedented numbers.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, food insecurity was already a major issue. Not having enough food to eat and coping with hunger makes maintaining good health extremely difficult. According to a 2019 United States Department of Agriculture report, over 37 million Americans, including more than 11 million children, are food insecure.
As COVID-19 continues to permeate all aspects of our communities, we must work together when addressing a critical issue like food insecurity. Anthem has been partnering with local organizations for years to help make a difference in the lives of our most vulnerable populations, and we are working to meet immediate needs through emergency responses during this pandemic.
Through our Foundation, we are providing $50 million to support organizations that are on the forefront of the crisis and working to meet the needs of our communities. For example:
- Already a Feeding America Leadership Partner, the Anthem Foundation has worked quickly with the organization to provide more resources in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Our contribution will help Feeding America’s network of food banks secure resources, meet increased demand and implement extra social distancing precautions as they continue to serve the most vulnerable members of the community. So far, Feeding America has distributed over 94 million pounds of food, helping provide nearly 79 million meals to those facing hunger.
- Despite school closures, we are working diligently to help ensure every child gets three meals a day. The Anthem Foundation directed grant funding to local Boys and Girls Clubs to help distribute meals to families in need. Anthem affiliated health plans in multiple states have also donated to help address the food needs of children at Boys and Girls Clubs in their local communities.
- People with disabilities and those living in areas of food insecurity are disproportionately impacted by all disasters, including COVID-19. Through a new donation to Portlight Strategies, a non-profit disaster relief organization, the Anthem Foundation has enabled the creation of an innovative disability-focused response to the coronavirus epidemic. Along with Kelly’s Kitchen, a non-profit organization committed to promoting healthy nutrition, the program partners with Centers for Independent Living and other disability and aging stakeholder organizations to support existing food pantry efforts as well as establish new food pantries as needed.
Anthem remains similarly focused on this issue across our businesses as we care for consumers during this time. Notably, at-risk populations, like low-income and older adults who face chronic diseases and conditions, often rely on food banks and senior centers for their primary nutrition needs. But due to shelter-in-place orders and a lack of volunteers, some of those organizations have stopped serving in-house meals. Our affiliated Medicare and Medicaid health plans, as well as one of our care delivery businesses, quickly developed new programs to identify and help beneficiaries who may be at high risk for food insecurity. Specifically:
- Through our Member Check-In Outreach Program, we reach out to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries to ask how we can support them with critical needs, including accessing food. The call list is prioritized to serve the most high-risk individuals first—those who live in regions most affected by COVID-19 like California and New York, as well as individuals who are immunosuppressed and manage chronic conditions. Within the first few weeks of the program, we reached out to nearly 100,000 consumers.
- Additionally, our care delivery subsidiary is identifying Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who are food insecure due to COVID-19 disruptions and providing them with medically-tailored meals. Their front line teams are now calling, scheduling food delivery and following up to ensure individuals have what they need to stay properly nourished during this time. Since the outreach began in late March, more than 5,000 meals have been delivered.
Addressing whole health needs, like food insecurity, is an important part of our mission to improve lives. We understand the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 public health crisis, and are working with compassion, humanity and care to respond. Anthem will continue collaborating with non-profit organizations throughout the country to support our local communities when they need it most.