RALEIGH, N.C., June 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- As residents across North Carolina continue to face challenges beyond medical care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WellCare of North Carolina, a subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-national healthcare company, is partnering with community-based organizations and other programs across the state to provide access to food and other essential supplies.
Unmet social service needs such as lack of food, housing or transportation can be key barriers to improving overall health. In fact, research shows social and environmental factors, or so-called "social determinants of health," can account for 80-90% of health outcomes. As a result, social service agencies and nonprofits are playing an even more critical role in supporting local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The pandemic has impacted the ability of individuals who live in vulnerable communities to access food, essential supplies, employment, connectivity, and other critical resources across our state," said Troy Hildreth, WellCare's Plan President and CEO in North Carolina. "Without appropriate social supports, recovery for both individuals and communities is at risk. As a result, WellCare of North Carolina is committed to ensuring we're supporting the needs of our members and communities during this challenging time."
Hunger and Food Insecurity The demand on food banks has significantly increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feeding America, a national hunger relief nonprofit, estimates these organizations will need an additional $1.4 billion in funding during the next six months to provide food assistance to people facing hunger. In partnership with Feeding America, Centene and WellCare will coordinate a donation of 1 million meals a month for the next 12 months to feed those in North Carolina and across the country.
In addition, WellCare of North Carolina has donated $40,000 directly to local food pantries and community partners across the state. The donation will help increase access to food support initiatives that serve vulnerable populations in high-need areas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local food pantries and organizations receiving support from this donation include:
Durham Public Schools
Brigade Boys and Girls Club
CARE Resource Center
Fayetteville Urban Ministries
Make a Difference Food Pantry
Catholic Charity of Greenville
Family Promise of Carteret County
Manna Food Bank
Catholic Charities of Charlotte
Loaves and Fishes of Union County
Grateful Heart Community Services
Cooperative Christian Ministry Helping Hands
Iredell Christian Ministries
St. Paul United Methodist Church
Guilford Child Development:
New Hope Community Development Group
The Salvation Army of Rockingham County
Hunger & Health Coalition
"Just like many nonprofit organizations, Fayetteville Urban Ministry heavily relies on community giving in order to provide support to those experiencing crisis within our community. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an array of novel challenges that would be very difficult to overcome without the support of our community partners like WellCare. Thank you so much for your support of our organization, our mission, and the people we serve," said Patricia Jackson, Operations Manager at Fayetteville Urban Ministry, Inc.
"We are thrilled to be awarded funding from WellCare of North Carolina and will use your gift to help feed homeless and low-income individuals and families. Family Promise has spent the past 45 days helping either homeless families with children or those individuals with no children continue to feed themselves daily. Thank you again for your support as we continue to fight COVID-19 in our communities," said Sandy Hewitt, Family Promise of Carteret.
"COVID-19 relief funds will be used in the acquisition and distribution of nutritious food and other essential household items to improve access for families struggling through the virus response," said Ed Hosack, Executive Director of Cabarrus Cooperative Christian Ministry.
"As part of our community safety net, those who give to support our mission are making a difference now more than ever. The virus has slowed us down, but it will not prevent us from protecting our community from poverty, poor health, and hunger," said Elizabeth Young, Executive Director of the Health & Hunger Coalition.
"On behalf of our Board of Directors, staff and enrolled children and families, I want to thank WellCare for your contribution of $2,000 in support of our COVID 19 crisis response. Your generosity enables our staff to distribute healthy meals for the children and families of our program. We are currently preparing breakfast and lunch for over 850 people daily, plus providing weekend meals. All of our clients are low-income and need extra support during this crisis. Your donation will help the many families in Guilford County struggling with food insecurity," said Maria Layne-Stevens, CEO of Guilford Child Development.
Healthcare & Essential Supplies WellCare also purchased nearly $35,000 worth of Walmart gift cards to support vulnerable populations in the community who are in need of food, supplies and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each gift card holds a value of $35 and can be used to purchase essential items like diapers, over-the-counter medicines, and cleaning supplies.
WellCare is partnering with local community-based organizations and school districts in some of the state's most vulnerable counties to distribute gift cards to families in need, including:
Catawba Partnership for Children
Blue Ridge Partnership for Children
Durham Urban Ministries
Wake Urban Ministries
Cleveland County School District
Catawba County Schools
Avery County Schools
Cherokee Central Schools
Robeson County Schools
Rockingham County Schools
Additional Support Activities WellCare of North Carolina has also set up a number of other initiatives to support local communities during the pandemic. The company:
Donated 1,600 bottles of hand sanitizer to UNC Health;
Donated meals for the Durham County Department of Public Health Emergency Operation Center to support frontline workers; and,
Distributed WellCare of North Carolina Community Resource Guides to community members.
About WellCare of North Carolina WellCare of North Carolina provides government-sponsored managed care services to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex needs primarily through Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans across the state. In 2019, WellCare was awarded a contract by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to administer the state's Medicaid Prepaid Health Plans (PHPs). WellCare is a wholly owned subsidiary of Centene Corporation, a leading multi-national healthcare enterprise that is committed to helping people live healthier lives. For more information about WellCare, please visit www.wellcare.com/northcarolina.