Healthfirst To Address Food Insecurity Through Holiday Donations

Dec 15, 2020

Donations to World Central Kitchen’s Restaurants for the People, Feeding Westchester, and The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island Will Support more than 200,000 People Residing in Healthfirst Member Communities

NEW YORK, December 15, 2020 – Healthfirst, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health insurers, is committed to reducing health disparities across its membership and member communities through the work it does every day. This holiday season, the company will also support healthy communities by helping New Yorkers struggling to put food on the table. The company is pleased to support the efforts of three organizations dedicated to combating food insecurity across the communities where its members live and work. Donations will be made to:

  • World Central Kitchen
    A Healthfirst donation will help serve approximately 10,000 meals to those in need in New York City and support approximately 15 restaurants through World Central Kitchen’s Restaurants for the People initiative.
  • The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI)
    A Healthfirst donation will help the HWCLI screen and enroll thousands of Long Island residents in government-sponsored food programs, including school nutritional programs, food pantry access, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to ensure they are getting the assistance they need.
  • Feeding Westchester
    A Healthfirst donation will help nearly 40,000 families (or 150,000 people) by stocking Feeding Westchester’s Mobile Food Pantry and Fresh Marketing Program with more than 88,000 pounds of food.

“The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has led to devastating consequences for those who were already struggling. For many of our members, including one million Medicaid clients, food insecurity has always been an issue. COVID-19 has dramatically worsened the situation and laid bare how many of our neighbors lack the basic necessities to sustain a healthy life,” said Pat Wang, president and chief executive officer of Healthfirst. “Healthfirst will continue its commitment to addressing the nutrition needs of New Yorkers as part of our ongoing efforts to battle disparities and to help improve health outcomes in the communities we serve. We enthusiastically support the efforts of these wonderful organizations dedicated to combating food insecurity across the communities where our members live and work.”

World Central Kitchen uses the power of food to heal and strengthen communities through times of crisis and beyond, providing fresh meals to communities in immediate need while also keeping small restaurants and food businesses open. World Central Kitchen buys meals directly from restaurants and delivers them to people who need help.

“World Central Kitchen is grateful for Healthfirst’s support and belief in our mission,” said Fiona Donovan, Relief Operations Lead and NYC efforts lead. “They share our vision that a powerful solution to the ongoing health, economic, and humanitarian crises is to work with restaurants to prepare nutritious meals for food-insecure communities. Healthfirst’s donation will support the NYC community and contribute to WCK’s Restaurants for the People program, which pays restaurants directly to help keep their business afloat while also providing tens of thousands of meals to people in need.”

The Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, with a mission that matches Healthfirst’s to serve those most vulnerable, has led the region’s health and human services delivery response to COVID-19 since early in the pandemic.

“At the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, we are immeasurably grateful for the support and partnership with Healthfirst,” said Rebecca Sanin, president and CEO of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island. “Thanks to Healthfirst, Long Islanders devastated by COVID-19 are receiving critical, needed support to help sustain their families during this difficult time. Healthfirst is committed to addressing the inequity that plagues the Long Island region and to making sure that the needs of those who are most vulnerable and have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 are prioritized.”

Feeding Westchester, at the heart of a network of more than 300 partners and programs, is the country’s leading nonprofit hunger relief organization.

“This holiday season presents an unprecedented set of challenges for many families and individuals right here in Westchester County. From those who are struggling to make the holidays special for their children, to seniors who are spending the holidays alone, the impact of hunger is pervasive in our community,” said Karen C. Erren, president & CEO of Feeding Westchester. “This generous donation from Healthfirst will help provide 150,000 meals to those in need throughout our communities.”

Healthfirst’s ongoing efforts to address food insecurity include joining forces with City Harvest and deploying resources to members to help them identify local resources.

“As the pandemic started to hit our communities, Healthfirst employees contributed more than $20,000 to City Harvest, with whom we collaborated to offer “pop-up” food pantries in a series of zip codes with limited access to affordable and nutritious food,” said Errol Pierre, the senior vice president of State Programs at Healthfirst. “We also responded to the needs in the communities during COVID-19 by connecting members to resources and services through our relationship with NowPow, an online directory that includes more than 5,000 organizations offering 20,000 services in New York City and surrounding areas. The needs, especially for referrals for food and housing, continue to increase, and we are steadfast in the support of our community.”

Healthfirst also provided resources to expand NowPow’s directory to include more than 525 additional food pantries and services for Healthfirst members. In April, Healthfirst accelerated NowPow’s integration into the Healthfirst NY Mobile App, and more than 36,000 members to date have accessed the resource. Members can also access NowPow’s directory by contacting a sales representative through the Healthfirst Virtual Community Office or through the customer call center at 1-844-488-1486.