Addressing food insecurity

Better communities

Addressing food

Associates packing food kits for seniors during Anthem Volunteer Days – supporting Ventura, CA-based community organization, Food Share

Anthem understands that the food we eat, and our access to healthy food, significantly impacts health. That is why we are championing change in food-insecure communities and making sure nutrition is an important part of how we think about and achieve health.

Felicia Norwood, EVP and President, Government Business Division, Anthem

Among all social barriers, food insecurity is the most pervasive, affecting one in nine Americans. Research indicates that poor nutrition, often a result of food insecurity, is a leading risk factor for many chronic conditions, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and other diet-related diseases. And food insecurity is reported to cost the healthcare system an additional $53 billion a year.

For decades, Anthem and the Anthem Foundation have been supporting national and local organizations that are dedicated to addressing the many aspects of food insecurity – including access to healthy food, basic education about nutrition, and assistance with food preparation. We’ve done this by offering financial support and by rolling up our sleeves and getting involved in community-based initiatives across the country.

Anthem’s season of service – dedicated to fighting hunger

Throughout our annual Anthem Volunteer Days, associates serve and strengthen communities where they live and work. This past year, during our largest season of service to date, thousands of associates volunteered their time and talents to support our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. Volunteer Days is one component of our year-round portfolio of associate engagement programs, which collectively resulted in more than 100,000 hours served last year.

Anthem volunteers partnered with Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, to identify community organizations that need help with tasks such as filling backpacks with healthy food for children in need, and preparing meals at community food banks.

2019 Anthem Volunteer Days – Helping individuals and families access nutritious food:

volunteers participated in 160 projects across 24 states
meals were packed, served or distributed

Invested in our communities to remove barriers to health

In 2019, the Anthem Foundation facilitated $8 million in grants to help address the issue of food insecurity across the country, including to national nonprofits such as Feeding America® and The Food Trust.

“A lot of things contribute to poor nutrition, but access is a key issue,” says Brian Lang, Director, Healthy Food Access Programs at The Food Trust. “With Anthem’s support, we’re working hard to tackle healthy food access from all sides – helping small retailers stock and sell healthy foods, increasing consumers’ purchasing power through nutrition incentives, and creating connections between communities and healthcare providers – to meet people where they are and ensure that no one has to choose between eating healthy and eating enough.”

Anthem's support of the Food Trust helps expand access to heart-healthy, culturally relevant foods, including at Tienda Morelos, a Hispanic grocery store located in the Far Eastside community of Lawrence, Indiana

Anthem Foundation’s partnership with The Food Trust has expanded access to heart-healthy foods in low-income food deserts. It connected community partners with small, locally-owned corner stores in Cleveland, Indianapolis, and San Jose to feature culturally relevant and locally grown produce, while strengthening the marketing of these foods through product placement and shelf displays. In a subset of stores, the program linked community health workers and a local healthcare provider to implement Heart Smarts, an evidence-based model providing in-store nutrition education, coupon incentives, and health screenings for customers.

Additionally, Anthem Foundation created a unique partnership with Feeding America, the country’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization. Bringing together hospitals, clinics, food banks and other food sources, our two-year “Food Is Medicine” initiative launched in 2019 with a $1 million Anthem Foundation grant. The goal is to create better access to food in healthcare settings, screen for food insecurity among individuals facing illness or chronic conditions and provide education programming to help foster the adoption of healthy food choices (learn more in the video below). Anthem is one of just 50 companies and the only national healthcare company to be deemed a Leadership Partner by Feeding America.

“It makes me feel good knowing that there is somewhere that you can go if you don’t have food. You can get assistance and they’ll show you the way to eat healthy,” says Kim Cullens, an Indianapolis resident who benefited from Anthem Foundation’s grant to Feeding America, and was able to bring down her blood sugar due to improved healthy food access and education.

Anthem is also making a number of investments in food initiatives across our businesses. Programs include incentives to care providers to screen and refer consumers to food banks, support for mobile food pantries in rural areas and identified food deserts, nutrition counseling, prescribed meals delivered to the home and non-emergency transportation for groceries.

For our own associates, we subsidize healthy food options in our cafeterias to make it easy to access nutritious choices.

All of these initiatives represent Anthem’s dedication to, and leadership in, removing barriers to nutritious foods – and supporting good health.