The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to support The Institute for Hunger Research & Solutions at Connecticut Foodshare to work closely with food pantries throughout Connecticut to increase access to healthy food. To mark the company’s annual volunteer days, Anthem associates will volunteer during three events at Connecticut Foodshare during September and October. The volunteers will sort and package boxes for distribution to those in need.
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Lou Gianquinto, president, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut joins a visit with Connecticut Foodshare at Hands on Hartford (Photo: Business Wire)
“The funding from the Anthem Foundation will allow the Institute to help train and support pantries to use our stoplight system called SWAP (Supporting Wellness at Pantries) to rank food nutritionally and promote healthy food. When food pantries use SWAP, they increase both the supply of and demand for healthy food,” said Katie Martin, Executive Director of the Institute for Hunger Research & Solutions at Connecticut Foodshare.
Studies show that people who visit food pantries experience a double burden of food insecurity and chronic disease risk. These chronic diseases often can be prevented, managed, and reversed through the foods people eat. The SWAP stoplight nutrition ranking system is designed to promote healthy food choices and is being used by food banks and pantries in Connecticut and around the country. Foods are broken into three nutrition rankings based on their content of saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars – green (choose often), yellow (choose sometimes), and red (choose rarely).
According to the latest research, food pantries using SWAP improved their supply of green foods, and food pantry guests were more likely to choose green foods and less likely to choose red foods after SWAP implementation. Through the Anthem grant, staff from the Institute will provide trainings and updated SWAP materials for food pantries throughout the state.
“Hands on Hartford was proud to serve as one of the early pilot sites for SWAP and we look forward to partnering with Connecticut Foodshare to enhance the SWAP system in our pantry and retrain our volunteers to ensure the health and wellbeing of the people we serve,” said Barbara Shaw, Executive Director of Hands on Hartford.
The funding from the Anthem Foundation will help support the Institute’s implementation of SWAP to nearly 10 partner food pantries across the state.
“At the heart of our mission to improve lives and communities is a commitment to ensuring our neighbors have access to nutritious, healthy food,” said Lou Gianquinto, president, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Connecticut. “We’re proud to support the Connecticut Foodshare Institute to work with pantries to empower communities to make healthy choices with programs such as SWAP and we look forward to volunteering with the team during our annual volunteer days.”
Learn more about SWAP here.
About Connecticut Foodshare
Connecticut Foodshare is the food bank serving all of Connecticut and a member of the national Feeding America network. Last year, Connecticut Foodshare distributed enough food to provide nearly 47 million meals through a network of 700 community-based hunger relief programs, including food pantries, community kitchens, and emergency shelters, while also working on long-term solutions to food insecurity. More than 8,000 volunteers help power the work of Connecticut Foodshare. Last year, they gave more than 62,000 hours of service.
About the Institute for Hunger Research & Solutions
The Institute for Hunger Research & Solutions serves as a resource for the national charitable food system by providing strategies for holistic solutions to hunger. The Institute develops innovative and evidence-based programs that promote health and long-term solutions to hunger.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc. The Foundation works to address health equity by focusing on improving the health of the socially vulnerable through strategic partnerships and programs in our communities with an emphasis on maternal child health; mental health; and food as medicine. 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. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. To learn more about the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, please visit http://www.anthem.foundation and its blog at https://medium.com/anthemfoundation.
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