Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield will provide $600,000 in funding to food banks and food pantries across Upstate New York as part of its planned $162 million response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The ability to earn a paycheck and feed a family are at risk for many people because of the coronavirus,” said Excellus BCBS President and CEO-elect James Reed. “This is leading to a growing number of people in our community experiencing food insecurity. Good health begins with good food. We saw an opportunity to help by providing needed support to food banks and food pantries that are under pressure because of an increased need in our communities.”
The $600,000 donation from Excellus BCBS will support food banks and food pantries across the nonprofit health insurer’s 39-county Upstate New York service area. In the Rochester region, $160,000 will support Foodlink, Inc. in its efforts to provide food for people in need.
“Foodlink is a proud partner of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in our effort to help build healthier communities across Rochester and the Finger Lakes region,” said Foodlink President and CEO Julia Tedesco. “Excellus BCBS understands the vital importance of food and nutrition in helping our region recover from this pandemic, and we’re grateful for their significant investment in our ongoing response to this public health crisis.”
Excellus BCBS officials noted that according to the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly 14 percent of New York households struggled with hunger, and at least 1 million New York children lived in households that did not have regular and consistent access to food. Over the last few months, as New York State’s unemployment rate increased, the ability for many families to regularly have food on the table was compromised. Local food banks and pantries are straining to meet the new demand.
“We are a nonprofit health insurer with 3,500 employees who call upstate New York home,” Reed said. “Improving the health and quality of life of our communities is what we’re all about.”
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