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Helping our Neighbors and Community During COVID-19

By Cheryl Parquet | April 24, 2020 | 4 min read | Community Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us in some way, changing our world view and what a “normal” world looks like. Social distancing, limited travel or working remotely for those able may be our new normal, but what will never be normal are people without access to food or have their basic needs met.

Living in North Carolina where 60 percent of the state’s children are on free or reduced school lunch programs, it breaks my heart to think that these kids may not currently be receiving the meals they depend on.

Our school systems and local community partners are doing their best to prevent this by delivering meals where they can, but we know that transportation, among other factors, still prevent many families from accessing these programs for their daily nutrition.

And let’s not forget our state’s college students who are also dealing with loss of jobs and ability to access campus dining. Not all students have the luxury of being at home with their parents during this time.

But for the last 85 years, Blue Cross NC has been serving the communities we call home – and COVID-19 will not change our commitment to the community and improving the health and well-being of all North Carolinians.

As part of Blue Cross NC’s ongoing commitment, today we’re providing an additional $5 million to support organizations across the state in their efforts to improve access to food and other critical community needs. These organizations include:

  • Blue Cross NC volunteer works at food bankThe Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, MANNA FoodBank, Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC, Food Bank of the Albemarle, Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, Second Harvest Food Bank of Southeast NC —to distribute nearly 1.2 million meals across all 100 counties.
  • Inter-Faith Food Shuttle – to secure packaging and products to produce and distribute 75,000 blast-frozen meals to high-need communities and reactivate its mobile unit to deliver meals.
  • Carolina Farm Stewardship Association – to support the development of a network of food hubs, farmers and farmer co-ops to package boxes of fresh food to be delivered to 2,500 out-of-work restaurant and hospitality industry workers.
  • Meals on Wheels of NC – to supplement government funding received for the purchase of food by providing each county in North Carolina with flexible support to operate senior meal programs.
  • Feeding the Carolinas – to provide statewide support across the Feeding the Carolinas network for partner agency food pantries.
  • Farmer Foodshare – to support the delivery of fresh food from farmers across North Carolina to schools and other emergency food providers.
  • Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) – to create market connections for farmers and vendors to replace disrupted sales, including operating a minimum of three centralized CDC-compliant farmers markets/pick-up sites and supporting the preparation and distribution of unsold farm products to food-insecure communities.
  • Durham Public Schools Foundation – to provide fresh food to families for weekend meals and increase staffing support. Blue Cross NC’s cafeteria vendor will provide 4,000 meals each week in conjunction with DPS Foundation’s efforts.
  • El Centro Hispano – to continue providing support to Latinx community members with food, financial assistance, health screenings and education from increased demand during COVID-19.
  • United Way 211 – NC 211 is the crisis line used statewide by North Carolinians during COVID-19. United Way 211 will be able to access equipment and IT services needed to ensure call quality and routing of calls, which have surged in the wake of the pandemic.
  • Camino Community Center – to expand operational capacity and provide food to more than 300 members of the Latinx community each week.
  • UNC School System – the Student Relief Fund at the UNC School System will be able to increase the assistance it gives students across all 16 universities and colleges within the school system.
  • North Carolina Restaurant Workers Relief Fund – Blue Cross NC matched nearly $40,000 in Thrive NC festival ticket purchaser donations to the NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund. With additional donations from Thrive NC sponsors, paired with ticket refund donations and Blue Cross NC match, the total investment totaled to $121,394 to the NC RWRF.

The organizations above are on the frontlines serving our families and our friends. They are making sure our kids, our students, and our seniors have access to food. They are here for our neighbors and communities, and so are we. To learn more relief efforts and the latest on COVID-19, visit https://www.bluecrossnc.com/covid-19.