By Kirstie Foster - Vice President for Communications & Social Responsibility

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Blue Cross MN employees raise funds to tackle hunger in Minnesota

March 19, 2018

In other parts of the world, food can be scarce due to droughts, floods, war and conflict. In Minnesota, we are fortunate to have enough food to feed the residents of our state. Yet, many people still go hungry.

In Minnesota, it’s not an issue of food scarcity.  It’s a matter of getting food to the people who need it by providing financial support, access and availability.This is a solvable issue, but we all need to work together to help our fellow Minnesotans.

“In Minnesota, [fighting hunger] is not an issue of food scarcity.  It’s a matter of getting food to the people who need it.”

A personal commitment to fighting hunger

This year, I am serving as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota executive champion for the Minnesota FoodShare March Campaign.  The campaign is an annual statewide initiative to support access to healthy food for hungr y Minnesotans with donations benefitting local food shelves.

Fighting hunger is an issue that I care deeply about. I’ve been a member of the Hunger Solutions Minnesota board of directors for seven years, currently serving as board vice president.

Through my work with Hunger Solutions Minnesota, a nonprofit organization working to connect hungry Minnesota residents with the right resources to put food on the table, I’ve seen incredible innovation and the measureable progress achieved by their passionate staff. But there is more to do to end hunger in our state. To this day, nearly one in 10 Minnesota households doesn’t have access to enough food for healthy living.

That’s why the Minnesota Foodshare March Campaign is co critically important. The March Campaign brings in resources for more than half the food distributed at food shelves in Minnesota each year.

March Campaign a tradition at Blue Cross

Blue Cross has been deeply committed to support the March Campaign because we believe every Minnesotan has the right to access to healthy, affordable and culturally significant food.

This campaign aligns directly with our mission to make a healthy difference in peoples’ lives, and is also a lot of fun for our employees.  Every year, Blue Cross employees come up with fun and creative fundraising ideas and consistently give generously to the campaign.

We had teams many games and lunch hour parties and even a cutest pet contest—which was—as any pet lover might guess— very competitive!

And, to make an even great impact for Minnesota food shelves, employee giving is matched dollar for dollar by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation.

A year-round commitment

Giving back to the fight against hunger is core to our mission. While March is a time when we pay much attention to hunger across the company, this work is done all year round.  Three examples include:

Creating corporate giving gardens

For ten years, Blue Cross employees have been carefully tending an on-campus giving garden. Their simple idea— to grow a garden and donate the crops to local food shelves— has grown to a network of more than 20 organizations that are doing the same. We shared highlights from the ten years in this blog post.

 Tackling transportation access

The reality is that even if you have a well-stocked food shelf in your community and qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, these resources are of no help if you live in a food desert or do not have transportation to access these resources.

Our Center for Prevention works with many great organizations focused on access to healthy food. One such organization, the Zeitgeist Center for Arts and Community, was named a Blue Cross Trailblazer for their “Grocery Express,” a retrofitted city bus that brings Duluth residents  in need of transportation to and from local grocers.

Ensuring children don’t go hungry

One in six children in Minnesota goes to bed hungry. The Center for Prevention is working with Second Harvest Heartland, Hunger Solutions and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid to change that. These organizations have come together to support the Childhood Hunger Caucus, a new initiative committed to implementing solutions that focus on the times when food insecurity spikes—  on weekends, holiday and in the summer— to close Minnesota’s childhood hunger gap.

Support the fight against hunger

More information about the Minnesota FoodShare March campaign is available their website.

Follow Blue Cross on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to catch photos and updates from our participation.

About Kirstie Foster
Kirstie Foster is vice president of communications and social responsibility at Blue Cross, and board vice president of Hunger Solutions Minnesota. 

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