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null Excellus BCBS COVID-19 response includes major donations to food banks

Excellus BCBS COVID-19 response includes major donations to food banks

For Immediate Release:  2020-07-16

Contact:  Edward Byrnes, (315) 404-3766

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is providing $600,000 in financial support to food banks and food pantries across upstate New York as part of its 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 and its impact on the economy,” said Excellus BCBS Regional President Eve Van de Wal. “A growing number of people in our community are facing food insecurity. Good health begins with good food. We saw an opportunity to help by supporting food banks and food pantries that are under pressure because of the 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 Utica/North Country region, that includes $80,000 to support six organizations in their efforts to provide food for people in need, including:

Joint Council for Economic Opportunity of Clinton and Franklin Counties, Inc.
Clinton and Franklin Counties - $15,000

St Lawrence County Community Development Program
St. Lawrence County  - $20,000

Community Action Planning Council of Jefferson County
Jefferson County - $20,000

Cooperstown Food Pantry
Otsego County - $7,500

Lewis County Opportunities, Inc.
Lewis County - $7,500

Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY
Delaware, Essex, Fulton, Hamilton and Montgomery Counties - $10,000

An additional $170,000 will be provided to support the Food Bank of Central New York, of which $65,000 be used in Oneida, Madison and Herkimer counties in its efforts to provide food for people in need.

“We are thrilled to partner with Excellus BlueCross BlueShield,” said Karen Belcher, interim executive director at Food Bank of Central New York. “Their support will help us provide nutritious food to more than 159,000 individuals throughout these eight counties.” 

Food is the most basic of all needs. 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, according to the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force. 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.  

This donation to food banks is part of a larger commitment by Excellus BCBS to spend more than $162 million to help its members, health care providers and communities respond to the pandemic. 

“We are a nonprofit health insurer with 3,500 employees who call upstate New York home,” said Van de Wal. “Improving the health and quality of life of our communities is what we’re all about.” 

For the latest information on the health plan’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, members, providers and employers are encouraged to visit https://www.chooseexcellus.com/covid19.
 

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 3,500 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.