By Dominic Manecke, Building Kentucky
One in five children in Kentucky report that summer is the hungriest time of the year, according to Feeding America. Federal school lunch waivers related to the COVID-19 pandemic have expired, further compounding the problem. In response, Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland, No Kid Hungry and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medicaid in Kentucky launched the “Summer Lunchbox Program” to fill the gap and help food-insecure students and families in 10 counties.
“No child should have to worry about when their next meal will be provided,” said Jamie Sizemore, executive director, Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland. “Vulnerable children and their families are facing hunger because inflated costs and delayed vouchers reduce their access to nutritious meals.”
The “Summer Lunchbox Program” distributed 2,500 boxes of food, each containing an assortment of non-perishable foods, such as tomato soup, chili and green beans. To ensure equitable distribution, the initiative aimed to nourish 25% of children facing insecurity in Adair, Carlisle, Christian, Fulton, Hancock, Logan, Meade, Russell and Todd Counties. No Kid Hungry pledged $50,000 and Anthem donated $25,000 to sustain the summer-long campaign.
“A lack of food has lasting and devastating consequences on health, development and overall wellbeing,” said Leon Lamoreaux, Anthem Medicaid President in Kentucky. “Unfortunately, far too many Kentucky children face this reality, putting them at increased risk for a host of health problems, including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and depression. At Anthem, we are on a mission to materially and measurably improve the health of all Kentuckians, and that starts with our youth. We are proud to collaborate with Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland and No Kid Hungry to address food insecurity during this extremely trying time for our neighbors and the communities that we serve.”
The initiative is part of Anthem’s overall effort to decrease food insecurity and homelessness in Kentucky. Since the start of the pandemic, Anthem has donated over $2.2 million to reduce food insecurity throughout the state.