Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Funds Healthy Food Campaign for Children

BCBSIL Awards Grant to the GCFD to support Healthy Kids Markets

CHICAGO, Dec. 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) is proud to announce its support of the Greater Chicago Food Depository's (GCFD) Healthy Kids Markets program, awarding a $75,000 grant to help support the school-based food pantries for the 2014 fiscal year.  

"For many of our community's most vulnerable, health and wellness begins by addressing food insecurity; that's why we're committed to support Healthy Kids Markets," said Donna Gerber Vice President of Public Affairs and Community Investments of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois. "By helping children gain greater access to nutritious foods, we can help remove the barrier of hunger and contribute to a better quality of life and a brighter future for these kids." 

The Greater Chicago Food Depository and Chicago Public Schools teamed up on Healthy Kids Markets, or food pantries located in schools, to provide nutritious food to students and their families who may not be able to visit a traditional food pantry due to work hours or location. In fiscal year 2012-13, Healthy Kids Markets distributed nearly 1.2 million pounds of food, serving 1,600 families each week.

The GCFD provides a variety of healthy foods, including fresh fruit and vegetables and shelf-stable items like pasta, peanut butter, rice and beans. Volunteers and staff from the school unload, set up and operate the pantry. Each school designates a weekly or bi-monthly pantry time and space, such as the cafeteria, gym or extra classroom.

"We are very grateful for the tremendous support of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois," said Kate Maehr, Executive Director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository. "Research shows there is a direct connection between nutrition and educational outcomes for children. Blue Cross' funding of Healthy Kids Markets will ensure that Chicago schoolchildren receive fresh produce in neighborhoods that lack access to nutritious food."

In addition to the grant, BCBSIL promoted the Food Depository's No 1 Should Go Hungry campaign, by illuminating its Chicago headquarters with the message "No 1 Hungry".  The new campaign asks all Chicagoans to support the Food Depository this holiday season through efforts including 1 City 1 Food Drive at more than 250 locations.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL)
With 7.6 million members, BCBSIL, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, is the largest health insurance company in Illinois. It is not a publicly-traded company, but is member-owned. Begun in 1936 in Chicago, BCBSIL is committed to promoting the health and wellness of its members and the communities it serves through accessible, cost-effective, quality health care. BCBSIL is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

About The Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD)
The Greater Chicago Food Depository, Chicago's food bank, is a nonprofit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in our community. The Food Depository, founded in 1979, makes a daily impact across Cook County with a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, mobile programs, children's programs, older adult programs and innovative responses that address the root causes of hunger. Last year, the Food Depository distributed 66 million pounds of shelf-stable food, fresh produce, dairy products and meat, the equivalent of 150,000 meals every day. For more information, visit chicagosfoodbank.org or call 773-247-FOOD.

SOURCE Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois



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