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Food insecurity is the most commonly reported unmet social need in the United States. Forty percent of households report moderate to high levels of food insecurity and it’s only gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is estimated that 2 out of 5 food bank visitors in the last year are people experiencing food insecurity for the first time. 

As an ER doctor by background, I’ve seen the impact of social factors on people’s health. An antibiotic can be prescribed, but how effective can it be if a person doesn’t have enough to eat? 

I was pleased to join our partners at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Indianapolis to announce that the Northeast Corridor in Indianapolis was selected to be the focal point of a three-year, $2.45 million initiative to improve nutritious food access and help build a more equitable food system. This community has a strong desire to develop a food system that supports family-sustaining employment, resulting in economic mobility and community growth. Leaders outlined a multi-generational approach to supporting improved nutrition and locally grown food in schools, connecting youth to urban gardening programs and cultivating social connection for seniors through community gardens and other food programs. 

The Equitable Food Access in Indianapolis Neighborhoods initiative, funded by the Elevance Health Foundation, is a community-based planning and implementation process that convenes residents, community leaders, subject matter experts, and civic organizations to develop a vision of equitable food access that will be translated into achievable strategies. 

Over the next three years, we can expect to see neighbors giving their input to a wide-ranging plan that could include guidance for people who need federal food assistance, the creation of a food hub with a kitchen to conduct cooking demonstrations, steps to address the food desert in the area, and a mobile food delivery truck to provide locally grown foods to residents in the neighborhood. The aim is to uncover insights that can be applied more broadly to help address food insecurity from the ground up, starting here in our corporate hometown. The initiative is built to be scaled to additional neighborhoods in other parts of the country as more capital is secured. 

We are enthusiastic about the Equitable Food Access in Indianapolis Neighborhoods initiative because it’s an approach to a widespread problem, viewed at the most local level, where the residents of a neighborhood have a voice when it comes to developing and implementing real solutions. 

Beyond LISC, our commitment to addressing food insecurity runs deep. For example, we’re continuing our national partnership with Feeding America called Food is Medicine, a program in which healthcare staff conduct universal food insecurity screenings and partner with food banks to implement interventions. The inaugural Food is Medicine initiative has screened more than 91,000 patients nationwide so far. 

The Elevance Health Foundation is proud to partner with LISC to invest in long-term solutions to address equitable access to food. 

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