GRANT PROVIDES $20,000 OF FUNDING TO EXPAND HEALTHY SCHOOL PROGRAMMING IN CONNECTICUT
FoodCorps, which has been serving Connecticut’s school children for the past four years, today announced a new grant to support the expansion of its healthy food education and access program in Connecticut thanks to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.
FoodCorps connects children to healthy food in school, placing AmeriCorps members into high-need schools to make sure students learn what healthy food is, fall in love with it, and eat it every day, giving them a pathway to a healthy and productive future. Service members collaborate with school communities to teach hands-on nutrition lessons in gardening and cooking, make school meals healthier and more appealing to students, and foster a schoolwide culture of health.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation issued a grant to FoodCorps to support increased programming in Hartford, New London, and New Haven. This expansion of FoodCorps’ programming comes as a result of the national service program establishing its first-ever field office, located in Vernon and led by a dedicated team of in-state staff who have grown FoodCorps’ on-the-ground service corps and increased the program’s impact to benefit children statewide. In its last program year (Sept. 1, 2015–July 31, 2016), 15 service members reached more than 12,900 children in 38 under-resourced schools across the state.
“The lived experience of poverty for many children in Connecticut is a struggle that includes both hunger and diet-related disease,” said Jiff Martin, Associate Educator of Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Connecticut Extension, and a key advisor to FoodCorps programming in the state. “They need and deserve better access to healthy meals and increased engagement with food and where it comes from. Having reached over 15,000 children in Connecticut last year, FoodCorps is building a foundation for healthy futures.”
FoodCorps is dedicated to serving communities most vulnerable to childhood obesity: low-income households and children of color. Children who grow up in low-income neighborhoods are twice as likely to suffer from obesity than their more affluent peers. Children of color are 60% more likely than their white peers to develop type 2 diabetes.
In Connecticut, where 108,000 children are living in poverty, one child in three is overweight or obese. FoodCorps sees schools—where children spend nearly a third of their day and often eat half their daily calories—as a critical point of intervention against childhood obesity.
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation grant has helped FoodCorps to grow its service corps from 15 to 20 AmeriCorps members, connecting more Connecticut children to healthy food and nutrition education. The new positions have added support in New Haven and New London, and introduced the FoodCorps program for the first time in Hartford.
“FoodCorps has already proven to be an asset to the healthy food network in Connecticut, not only through the direct service of its AmeriCorps members, but by helping connect the work being done on these issues throughout the state,” said Dawn Crayco, FoodCorps Connecticut’s Program Director. “We are excited to expand this leadership in the state, and in New London, Hartford, and New Haven in particular.”
“Kids and teens today face a variety of challenges when it comes to eating healthy. That’s why we support FoodCorps, to help ensure that our youth build life-long healthy habits with a firm foundation of support,” said Jill R. Hummel, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation. “The FoodCorps program is working to build great futures for our kids by changing the opportunity equation to help them make healthy food choices and participate in healthy activities each and every day.”
FoodCorps is a national service organization that recruits, trains, and places AmeriCorps members to serve in high-need schools to connect kids to healthy food in school. Serving alongside educators and community leaders across 359 schools in 18 states, corps members focus on delivering hands-on lessons in gardening, cooking, and tasting healthy food; improving school meals; and encouraging a schoolwide culture of health. Building on this foundation of direct impact, FoodCorps pursues systemic strategies that will benefit all of the nation’s 100,000 public schools.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation
Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, promotes Anthem’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s Associate Giving program which provides a 50 percent match of associates’ campaign pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.