Expanding our foundation’s support of Tennessee food banks

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BCBST News Center, Amanda Haskew, Dec. 29, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Tennessee earlier this year, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation provided $3.25 million to food banks statewide to help our neighbors facing uncertainty about where their next meal might come from.

As 2020 draws to a close, many Tennesseans are continuing to seek assistance from their local food banks. And while these organizations have been able to sustain operations throughout the year, donations are leveling off and the beginning of 2021 remains uncertain.

So, our foundation is stepping in to support them again.

The BlueCross Foundation is providing an additional $1.75 million to food banks in Tennessee, bringing the total contribution since March to $5 million.

Organizations receiving this additional funding include:

  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee (Nashville) – $450,000
  • Mid-South Food Bank (Memphis) – $450,000
  • Chattanooga Area Food Bank – $250,000
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee (Knoxville) – $250,000
  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee (Tri-Cities) – $250,000
  • Regional Inter-Faith Association (Jackson) – $100,000

Food banks can often purchase supplies at much lower costs than individuals, stretching to provide as many as four meals for each dollar they receive in cash donations.

“We know many Tennesseans count on their local food banks for help – especially this year,” said Roy Vaughn, executive director of the BlueCross Foundation. “BlueCross understands the vital role these organizations play in our communities, and as part of our mission to provide peace of mind, we’re expanding our support to ensure they can continue helping our neighbors in need.”

What our community partners are saying

Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee

“This has been one of the most challenging years we have faced at Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. From the deadly tornadoes in March to the ongoing pandemic, the need for our services has never been greater. We are so grateful for this incredible gift from the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation as it will provide thousands of meals for so many families in need.” —Nancy Keil, president & CEO

Mid-South Food Bank

“BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation has been a strong partner with Mid-South Food Bank for many years and they were among the first to step up when the Covid-19 crisis hit. Our work continues at what we now recognize is our new level of greater service. We are so very grateful to BlueCross for supporting our efforts to provide food for families and individuals who need our help to stay healthy.” —Cathy Pope, president & CEO

Chattanooga Area Food Bank

“The Chattanooga Area Food Bank is grateful for the extraordinary support of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation. This additional investment enables the food bank to remain on the frontlines of hunger relief, ensuring those in our community have access to fresh produce and nourishing shelf-stable food boxes. Together, we are providing an additional 1,000,000 meals and giving hope to those who need us most.” —Melissa Blevins, president & CEO

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee

“In a year as devastating as 2020, donor support continues to be imperative in the fight to end hunger. Second Harvest expresses the most sincere gratitude to the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation for its continuous support of the mission. With more than 239,000 East Tennesseans now facing food insecurity due to the pandemic, this generous gift could not come at a better time. We are extremely thankful.” —Elaine Streno, executive director

Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee

“We are deeply grateful and honored by the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation’s trust in our mission. Their compassion for Northeast Tennessee neighbors in need was evident with their first contribution for COVID-19 relief last spring and is more evident with this new gift. This pandemic is the most wide-spread, major event for disaster relief that our food bank has experienced in its 34-year history. In November, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee distributed 2.1 million pounds of food, which is a 124% increase over pre-COVID distribution. We thank the BlueCross Foundation for its commitment to neighbors struggling to feed themselves and their loved ones.” —Rhonda Chafin, executive director

Regional Inter-Faith Association (Jackson)

“Now, more than ever, people are turning to RIFA for relief. Thanks to our friends at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation and their generous support, we are better positioned to support the increasing number of those facing hunger throughout our community this year.” —Lisa Tillman, executive director

These additional food bank gifts are the latest in a series of contributions the BlueCross Foundation has made to help Tennesseans throughout the pandemic.

The foundation has given a combined $1.5 million for COVID testing in underserved areas, flu vaccine education efforts and community organizations.

Community members who want to help their neighbors in need can find and donate to their local food bank by visiting FeedingAmerica.org.

How BlueCross is supporting members through the COVID-19 pandemic

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee has also taken several steps to help its members during the pandemic, including waiving member costs for FDA-aligned COVID-19 tests and treatments, as well as expanding telehealth options. For more, visit BCBSTupdates.com.

Read the full article on BCBST’s News Center.