As part of its ongoing work to increase access to nutritious food and improve the health of all New Yorkers, the Empire BlueCross Foundation, the charitable arm of Empire BlueCross, recently announced a three-year, $450,000 grant for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The grant will support the Food Farmacy Program, which provides participants and their families with a three-day supply of fresh produce, low-fat dairy and lean meats, and protein on a weekly basis.
The Food Bank is partnering with St. Peter’s Health Partners and Saratoga Hospital to develop on-site food pantries that distribute meal packages tailored to patients’ chronic diseases in conjunction with nutrition education and counseling, with a goal of supporting more than 1,600 patients over the next three years.
“Our mission at the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York to not only feed our neighbors in need but to also provide them with healthy and nutritious food,” said Tom Nardacci, CEO of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. “With Empire BlueCross Foundation’s generous grant of $450,000, we are able to deepen our efforts in providing nutritious meals and will work closely with health care partners committed to the whole health of vulnerable New Yorkers.”
The announcement is part of Empire’s $2.2 million Food as Medicine grant program directed to food banks across New York State. The announcement on September 15 also coincided with national Hunger Action Day, a day to raise awareness about hunger in America and take action to fight food insecurity in our communities. As part of the day of action, 20 Empire employees volunteered at the Food Bank, sorting and organizing donations from the community.
“Access to nutritious food is a critically important part of whole health. In partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, St. Peter’s Health Partners, and Saratoga Hospital, we continue to work toward a future where nobody goes hungry, and where everyone in our region has equitable access to healthy food so they can live their healthiest lives,” said Jason O’Malley, Regional Vice President of Sales for Empire BlueCross.
Highly nutritious foods are an important part of supporting the whole health of a community, which includes the treatment and prevention of diet-related diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health, half of U.S. adults have one or more preventable chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor nutrition.
“We know that a well-balanced, nutritious diet can have a positive impact on a person’s health. Yet, we also know that eating healthy can be costly. For many of our patients battling chronic medical conditions, that can often be a heavy burden,” said Katherine DeRosa, Chief Mission Officer and Vice President of Community Health and Well-Being for St. Peter’s Health Partners. “This grant from Empire BlueCross Foundation will help us expand our Food Farmacy program to reach even more community members in need, provide them with the tools to manage their chronic conditions through healthy eating, and hopefully lighten their load. We are extremely grateful for their generosity and partnership.”
To learn more about the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, visit regionalfoodbank.net.