Today marks World Food Day, the annual day of action dedicated to addressing and ending global hunger by businesses, farmers, governments and healthcare advocates. It’s an important time to be reminded that despite years of economic growth, people still face hunger in every county in this country. Creating high impact, innovative solutions that include access to healthy and nutritious food is a critical component of Anthem’s whole person health strategy, which considers all aspects of a person’s health throughout their life.

Access to affordable and nutritious food plays a vital role in overall health and well-being. But today, 37 million Americans – including more than 11 million children – are struggling with food insecurity. Defined by USDA as the lack of consistent access to enough food to lead an active, healthy life, food insecurity disproportionately affects certain populations, including seniors and those living with chronic health conditions.

A recent analysis conducted by the Anthem Public Policy Institute (PPI) and Quid found that food access is among the socioeconomic factors that individuals care most about. Food insecurity is a pressing issue facing our communities and Anthem is taking a holistic approach to improve the health of those we serve.

‘Food is Medicine’ Program Addresses Food Insecurity in Seven States

In June, the Anthem Foundation announced a $1 million grant to launch a one-year ‘Food is Medicine’ program at Feeding America member food banks in seven states across the country. The grant will support food banks in working with local hospital outpatient clinics to conduct food security screenings and connect those who are food insecure with food distribution programs. Food banks play a critical role in ensuring that communities have access to the nutritious food they need to stay healthy and our Foundation’s partnership with Feeding America is just one component of our effort to address food insecurity.

Anthem Volunteer Days: Fighting Food Insecurity in Communities Across the Country

We are also putting a critical focus on the issue of food insecurity facing our nation during Anthem Volunteer Days. Now in its fifth year, Anthem Volunteer Days is our signature volunteer initiative, connecting Anthem associates with national, regional and local organizations, Lions Clubs International volunteers and their neighbors to take part in community events that improve the health and well-being of those we serve.

This fall, associates are taking part in more than 60 individual service projects in 40 cities across the country, many of which are specifically targeting efforts to improve access to healthy food for those in need. This support includes:

  • Packaging, preparing and distributing meals to seniors living in food-deserted areas, those with HIV/AIDS and those with life-threatening illnesses.
  • Seeding, planting, harvesting and washing fruits and vegetables with organizations that support senior populations, families in crisis and individuals living in underserved areas.
  • Volunteering at food pantries and food banks to clean, sort donations and serve food to the homeless and food insecure communities.

We’re proud to highlight just some of the organizations we are partnering with that are making a difference in the fight to end hunger:

  • Hunger Task Force in Wisconsin grows fresh, healthy produce for Milwaukee’s hungry citizens, manages a local food bank and manages a mobile market that travels to the city’s hungriest food desert communities.
  • Moveable Feast serves individuals who have a critical and life threatening illness which prevents them from accessing, affording or preparing medically appropriate meals for themselves.
  • Local Food Banks in Indianapolis, Houston, Sacramento and places in between prepare and distribute healthy food options to individuals in need.

For Anthem and the Anthem Foundation, our commitment to improving and expanding access to sufficient, affordable and nutritious food options for communities continues on World Food Day, during Anthem Volunteer Days and beyond. We’re proud to join those who recognize this important issue and support efforts that are making an impact for food insecure individuals.