Funding helps food banks and health care partners screen for and address food insecurity
Today, Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, announced a $1 million grant from the Anthem Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., to expand the ‘Food is Medicine’ program—an effort in which health care staff conduct universal food insecurity screenings and partner with food banks to implement interventions.
“The ‘Food is Medicine’ program underscores the positive impact food bank-health care partnerships have in communities facing hunger and other social determinants of health. This initiative helps reduce some of the barriers that patients may face in accessing nutritious foods,” said Hilary Seligman, M.D., senior medical advisor, Feeding America. “We are grateful to the Anthem Foundation for supporting strategies that help improve food security, diet quality and health outcomes for people in need.”
The ‘Food is Medicine’ program funding will support 14 Feeding America member food banks as they collaborate with health care partners to screen patients for food insecurity during outpatient visits. Health care partners will then connect patients who screen positive for food insecurity to food assistance resources onsite at health care facilities, and at community-based food pantries and meal programs.
Feeding America projects that approximately 42 million people, including 13 million children, could experience food insecurity in 2021 due to the ongoing economic fallout from COVID-19. People living in food-insecure households are more likely to experience poor health across their lifespan and are at increased risk for illness and poor chronic disease management.¹
“We have long championed for better access to nutritious foods in the communities we serve – understanding the integral link between healthy food options and its impact on overall health,” said Shantanu Agrawal, M.D., Chief Health Officer, Anthem, Inc. “This unique partnership will continue to allow clinical staff to conduct universal food insecurity screenings and interventions, which screened more than 91,000 patients in the inaugural ‘Food is Medicine’ program. As food insecurity 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.”
Feeding America member food banks will also leverage funding from the Anthem Foundation to help eligible patients enroll into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Additionally, the grant will strengthen existing partnerships for seven food banks and their affiliated health care partners that participated in the first round of the ‘Food is Medicine’ program. The health care partners participating in this program aim to screen 100,000 patients for food insecurity in 2021.
Participating food banks and health care partners include the following:
• Atlanta Community Food Bank* and Grady Health System, Atlanta, Georgia
• Dare to Care Food Bank* and Family Health Centers, Louisville, Kentucky
• Feed More* and Virginia Commonwealth University Health, Richmond, Virginia
• Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino and a local health care provider, Riverside, California
• Food Bank of Northern Nevada and local health care providers, Sparks, Nevada
• Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and Franciscan Health, Merrillville, Indiana
• Freestore Foodbank* and University of Cincinnati Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
• Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana* and Eskenazi Health, Indianapolis, Indiana
• Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
• Greater Cleveland Food Bank and MetroHealth and Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
• HACAP Food Reservoir, Hiawatha, Iowa and Mercy Medical Center, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
• Houston Food Bank* and Harris Health System, Houston, Texas
• Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee* and Nashville General Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee
• St. Louis Area Foodbank and SSM Health, Bridgeton, Missouri
*Participated in the first round of the ‘Food is Medicine’ program in 2019-2020
Since 2004, the Anthem Foundation has supported hunger-relief efforts at food banks across the country and provided funding to Feeding America for the first phase of the ‘Food is Medicine’ program. This year’s grant represents a sustained investment in the Feeding America network to support food bank and health care partnerships and address the intersections of food insecurity and health.
 Gunderson, G. & Ziliak, J. 2015. Food Insecurity and Health Outcomes. Health Affairs, 34(11), 1830-1839.
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About Feeding America
Feeding America® is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, we provide meals to more than 40 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people we serve; educates the public about the problem of hunger; and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
About Anthem Foundation
The Anthem Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. and through charitable contributions and programs, the Foundation promotes the inherent commitment of Anthem, Inc. to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem, Inc. and its affiliated health plans serve. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that make up its Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets: maternal health, diabetes prevention, cancer prevention, heart health and healthy, active lifestyles, behavioral health efforts and programs that benefit people with disabilities. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Dollars for Dollars program which provides a 100 percent match of associates’ donations, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. To learn more about the Anthem Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.