The holidays bring people together, often with food as a focal point—cooking family recipes and gathering around the table for a traditional feast. But this year, an increasing number of our neighbors are facing a food crisis—struggling to put meals on the table, not only for the holidays, but every day.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many food banks across the country have seen a surge in new families in need. It’s estimated that 2 out of 5 food bank visitors in the last year are people experiencing food insecurity for the first time.
We know our health requires a broader, more holistic view, which includes addressing factors like food insecurity and the impact it can have on whole health. That is why we support food initiatives and collaborations at the community level to address these needs.
In our newly released Driving our Health study, which explores how Americans think about whole health, we found consistent access to nutritious food is a key social driver of health. 53% of Americans believe access to affordable and nutritious foods is significantly impacting their health. Nearly 1/3 of Americans have altered their eating habits due to financial concerns. And 50% say it is hard to find affordable, healthy food in their local community.
Like in Kentuckiana, where for 166,000 people, a daily meal is a choice between food and other critical needs like medicine, housing, or transportation. The Dare to Care Food Bank has been doing its part to increase access to healthy food in the community, serving 13 counties in Kentucky and Indiana for more than 50 years. And now, they can increase those efforts thanks to a major financial boost.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky has committed $432,000 over the next three years to Dare to Care as part of its continued collaboration with the food bank to fight food insecurity. Dare to Care partners with nearly 300 local social service agencies, such as food pantries and shelters to distribute food to the community, providing 23 million meals to those in need in the past year alone. The support will help Dare to Care conduct hundreds of mobile food pantry events in areas with limited food access and distribute more than 1.6 million pounds of fresh produce to Kentuckiana over the next three years.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kentucky and the Anthem Foundation have committed $2.2 million to Kentucky food insecurity efforts since the start of the pandemic, including the recently launched Dollars for Doers Challenge, a volunteer challenge running through December 31, in which the Anthem Foundation will donate $10 for every hour volunteered at Kentucky’s three largest food banks—Dare to Care, Feeding America – Kentucky’s Heartland, and God’s Pantry. The challenge builds off of a successful campaign last year, to help fill a critical gap in volunteer hours and dollars needed amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Social drivers of health can determine up to 80% of our health outcomes.1 We are committed to improving outcomes and making an impact in communities by addressing whole health, and the factors that drive it, including reliable access to healthy food.
1 RWJF: Medicaid’s Role in Addressing Social Determinants of Health 2019 (rwjf.org/en/library/research/2019/02/Medicaid-s-role-in-addressing-social-determinants-of-health.html)