Skip to main content

Coming together to confront food insecurity

By Aolani Donegan | September 6, 2018 | Community Health

Feature Blog Image

As Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) President and CEO, Dr. Patrick Conway visits counties across the state, he shares this core value, “increasing access to good food in our communities is an important part of improving overall health in North Carolina.”

North Carolina is the 10th hungriest state in the nation, and a booming economy doesn’t erase the fact that many working families often struggle to access affordable and healthy food.

A recent NC Justice Center study shows that 15.9% of our neighbors are food insecure and households with children are more likely to have trouble putting enough nutritious food on the table1. Access to healthy food, in particular, may be the most basic to good health. In order to grow, learn, work and fight off sickness people need the right kinds of nutritious food.

By investing in organizations like the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC (FBCENC), Meals on Wheels of NC (MOWNC) and MANNA Food Bank we’re acting on a critical need to increase access to healthy food to underserved communities in over 65 counties.

Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC (FBCENC)

The Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC (FBCENC) has been fighting hunger in 34 counties since 1980. Their commitment to connecting people to an adequate amount of healthy food has driven them to distribute millions of meals and lay the groundwork for healthier, food-secure communities.

Blue Cross NC President and CEO, Patrick Conway MD sorts apples with Blue Cross NC volunteers and Director of Community and Diversity Engagement, Cheryl Parquet. 

To further this commitment, they recently partnered with Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC to create an outpatient food pantry. This partnership helps connect people facing food insecurity with pre-packed nutritious meals. Our investment will help support the recently opened onsite pantry at Vidant Health.

We are proud to continue to find innovative solutions, including expanded collaborations with Rex Healthcare and Duke Health, in an effort towards eradicating food insecurity.

Meals on Wheels of North Carolina (MOWNC)

The older adult population is continuing to grow in North Carolina, with estimates of the 60+ population outnumbering the under 18 population by 2019. As people age, it becomes harder to access healthy and nutritious meals. This is clear in North Carolina.

Meals on Wheels of North Carolina (MOWNC) recognizes this need and works to meet the elderly where they are – in their homes.

633,577 NC Seniors live in or near the poverty level.

By delivering well-balanced meals to seniors, MOWNC is helping end senior hunger. 81% of senior clients say that services improve their health and make them feel safe and secure2.  

Our investment will support home-delivered meal programs in the 40 Tier 1 counties in North Carolina so MOWNC can give homebound seniors access to nutritious meals.

There are currently thousands of seniors in North Carolina on a waitlist to receive Meals on Wheels so this investment will help close the wait list gap. 

MANNA FoodBank

MANNA FoodBank is committed to addressing the intersection between food insecurity and health. Funding from Blue Cross NC will support their efforts to identify urgent needs and to act quickly to support underserved rural communities in our state.

Along with delivering nutritious food, MANNA is committed to providing people with access to food resources. Through their Nutrition Works program, MANNA partners with local clinical and community organizations to show the harmful impact of food insecurity on health. They’re now working with 81 clinics to find and connect those struggling with food insecurity with healthy food and resources. With our investment, MANNA will expand their Nutrition Works program and create a Mobile Food Pantry to bring healthy options to food deserts.

We’re excited to partner with these great organizations to bring healthy food to all North Carolinians.

Together, we’re committed to building a healthier North Carolina where all will thrive.


1 Hunger in the Tar Heel State, Nov. 2016, NC Justice Center, Meals on Wheels America, North Carolina 2017 report