Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts (“Blue Cross”) recently announced its latest COVID-19 relief efforts. This round of support largely focuses on contributions to city-specific relief funds in hard-hit communities and partnering with local food relief nonprofits in response to the growing rate of food insecurity across the Commonwealth. Support in Chelsea includes:
• A contribution to the One Chelsea Fund, which is providing critical support for community members who have been hardest hit by the pandemic.
• A new partnership with Lovin Spoonfuls and FLIK, Blue Cross’ food service vendor, engaging cafeteria employees from our Hingham and Quincy offices to prepare 1,000 meals per day to donate to local communities in need. Lovin’ Spoonfuls, which focuses on bridging the gap between food abundance and need, picks up the prepared meals each morning and distributes the meals to more than a dozen organizations in Chelsea, East Boston, Greater Boston, Quincy and Waltham.
• Re-allocating previous funding with Greenroots Chelsea, an organization that is coordinating breakfast and lunch pick-ups for school-aged children and grocery deliveries for older adults.
“This contribution to the One Chelsea Fund will provide invaluable financial relief to Chelsea families who might otherwise have to make a painful choice between rent, food, medicine or other basic needs,” said City Manager Tom Ambrosino.
The work in Chelsea is part of a broader statewide effort by the company to increase food access as need continues to surge. According to data cited by anti-hunger organization Project Bread, pre-COVID-19, one in 11 Massachusetts households faced hunger, which amounted to 9% of residents. As of March, data showed that 38% of people in the state were food insecure and the rate continues to rise.
“Access to nutritious food is essential for maintaining a healthy life,” said Jeff Bellows, vice president of corporate citizenship and public affairs at Blue Cross. “To help address this growing health issue, Blue Cross has made significant local investments and developed new community partnerships to ensure families have access to healthy food during this difficult time.”
To date, Blue Cross’ financial, pro-bono and in-kind COVID-19 community support totals $9.75M. In addition to the company’s $460,000 contribution to regional COVID-19 response funds, including theBoston Resiliency Fund, The Community Foundation of Western Mass, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, The Community Foundation of Southeast Massachusetts among others, Blue Cross has committed nearly $600,000 directly to nonprofits addressing the rising rate of food insecurity in communities across the state.
This support includes:
• Increasing support for Project Bread and their COVID-19 response efforts working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and many schools and community partners to provide families with access to school meals while schools are closed.
• Funding of World Central Kitchen’s Frontline Foods South Shore and Off Their Plate initiatives, which provide hospital and community health center clinicians with food from local restaurants that have been impacted by the COVID crisis.
• Partnering with food pantries such as Lorraine’s Soup Kitchen and Pantry, which serves Greater Chicopee, and other smaller, local food pantries in communities across Massachusetts.
• Re-allocating funding for existing food-related partnerships as organizations shift their efforts to COVID-19 response. Examples include Mill City Grows in Lowell, the Downtown Pittsfield Farmers’ Market, the Springfield Schools’ Weekend Backpack Program, and more.
• Launching an employee food assistance program where Blue Cross associates can pick-up free meal kits once a week to feed a family of four.