Food insecurity is one of many social drivers of health, impacting over 42 million people across the nation, including more than 13 million children[1]. Individuals living in food-insecure households are at an increased risk for chronic health conditions including hypertension, coronary heart disease and kidney disease,[2] and to this affect, has been linked to over $77 billion in additional healthcare expenditures each year in the U.S.[3] We realize access to healthy food is a critical part of whole-person health, and vital to improving the lives of individuals across America.

Anthem has been building and supporting programs that reduce food insecurity and improve access to healthy food in our communities, including over one million meals delivered to food-insecure Medicare and Medicaid members as part of a coordinated response to the COVID-19 crisis, and integrating medically tailored meals and food delivery into affiliated health plan benefits. Another example is our Foundation’s partnership with Feeding America®, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

Two years ago, Anthem Foundation provided support to Feeding America in the novel ‘Food is Medicine’ program, an effort that aims to connect people facing hunger to food distribution programs to ensure they have access to nutritious foods. Through a directed members grant process, seven Feeding America member food banks were selected to partner with hospital outpatient clinics to support clinic staff with the implementation of processes and procedures to conduct universal food insecurity screenings and interventions.

During the first round of the ‘Food is Medicine’ program, over 91,000 patients were screened for food insecurity, with 52 percent of patients who screened positive receiving referrals to ‘Food is Medicine’ programming which included onsite food pantries.

In a recent announcement, Anthem Foundation will continue its support of the ‘Food is Medicine’ program, which has expanded to an additional seven Feeding America member food banks around the country. In addition to food insecurity screenings and interventions, food banks and healthcare partner sites will also aim to help eligible patients enroll into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The health care partners participating in this program aim to screen 100,000 patients for food insecurity in 2021.

We see the impact of food insecurity as it continues to affect our communities. We remain committed to removing barriers and create sustainable change through bold action and collaboration with partners across the health ecosystem.

[1] Feeding America. (2021). The Impact of Coronavirus on Food Insecurity.

[2] Christian A. Gregory, Alisha Coleman-Jensen. (2017) Food Insecurity, Chronic Disease, and Health Among Working-Age Adults, ERR-235, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 31pp.

[3] Berkowitz, S. A., Basu, S., Meigs, J. B., & Seligman, H. K. (2018). Food Insecurity and Health Care Expenditures in the United States, 2011-2013. Health services research, 53(3), 1600–1620.