Fresh, nutritious food programs provide lifeline to hungry kids throughout summer
Hunger, unlike sunshine, is not seasonal. Summer break means an end to regular school-day meals for students who participated in the free and reduced-cost lunch programs that serve more than186,000 kids in Oregon.*
The federally funded Summer Food Service Program, open to all kids aged 1-18 years, and Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share, a free, farmers-market style fruit and vegetable distribution, help fill the gap with fresh, nutritious food for families in need.
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon employees will lend a hand during their Summer Harvest Week by volunteering with OFB, including at its Harvest Share program at the Baltazar Ortiz Center in NE Portland on Thursday, Aug. 2. The center distributes fresh produce to 150 families with children each month.
In addition, Regence employees will hold food and fund drives in Portland, Salem and Medford to benefit Oregon Food Bank and will volunteer to repack food at OFB’s headquarters throughout the week. These efforts are part of Regence’s three-year commitment of volunteer support, food donations and funds to OFB, who the health insurer designated as one of its Community Partner Organizations for 2011-2013.
“Regence has gone above and beyond with its three-year commitment to OFB and its mission,” said Laura Golino de Lovato, director of development, marketing and communications. “Their dedication to holding a Summer Harvest Week is another example of how Regence ‘walks the talk’ when it comes to ending hunger, particularly for kids.”
By focusing its efforts on childhood hunger during the summer months, Regence is addressing a real need in our communities. Approximately one in five children in Oregon are food insecure, meaning they have limited or uncertain access to safe and nutritious food. Children who are hungry or food insecure are more likely to be in poor health and less likely to form friendships, to be curious, and to learn. Summer meal programs can respond to this problem. Over 1.8 million nutritious meals were served last summer at more than 700 locations across Oregon. The meals help ensure kids return to school healthy and ready to learn.
“For Regence employees, Summer Harvest Week is really about giving back and shining a light on the increased need for food, donations and volunteers during the summer months,” said Don Antonucci, president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon. “By supporting Oregon Food Bank, our goal is to help ensure children and families in our community have access to the fresh, nutritious food they need for a healthy and active lifestyle.”
Harvest Share, a program of Oregon Food Bank, is run by volunteers at local partner agencies. Participants receive free fresh produce and a newsletter with resources and recipes. Each site distributes food to individuals and families on a first come, first served basis. Volunteers are welcome. For a site near you, visit www.oregonfoodbank.org.
About Oregon Food Bank
Oregon Food Bank believes no one should be hungry. With sufficient public will and support of the entire community, we believe it is possible to eliminate hunger and its root causes. Since 1982, Oregon Food Bank has been leading the fight against hunger in Oregon and Clark County, Wash., by collecting and distributing food through a network of four OFB branches and 16 independent regional food banks. The OFB Network helps nearly 1 in 5 households fend off hunger. OFB also leads statewide efforts to increase resources for hungry families and to eliminate the root causes of hunger through advocacy, nutrition education, garden education and helping communities strengthen local food systems. Last year, the OFB Network distributed more than 1 million emergency food boxes throughout Oregon and southwest Washington. For more information, visit www.oregonfoodbank.org.
About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is a leading health plan in Oregon, with nearly 750,000 members, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and is affiliated with Regence BlueShield of Idaho, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah and Regence BlueShield (selected counties in Washington). Together, the companies serve more than two million members in the Northwest/Intermountain Region. The Regence affiliated companies are committed to improving the health of its members and communities, and to transforming the health care system. For more information, please visit www.regence.com or www.twitter.com/RegenceOregon.