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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Unveils New Food Pantry and Produce Garden at IPS School

Volunteers from Anthem prep bags of food to be distributed from the new food pantry.

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Heart of America and iHeartMedia today announced the funding of a new food pantry and produce garden at Brookside School 54 — a member of the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS)— providing a permanent resource for students and families to access and grow healthy food.

According to a recent study by the Indy Hunger Network, nine out of 10 households with food assistance needs do not have reliable access to nutritious food. This transformation project will help to solve this problem by offering multiple indoor and outdoor re-imagined spaces designed as tools that will increase access to fresh produce, nutrition education, and overall health and wellness, for the students and the community.

“As educators, we know students learn best when they have access to a variety of nutritious food — both at school and especially at home. Thanks to this partnership, students at Brookside and their families will have easy access to a new pantry stocked with healthy, balanced food options,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson. “At IPS, many of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and live in communities classified as food deserts. So, it’s also exciting to be able to plant and harvest a garden that will provide fresh fruits and vegetables for students, their families, and our community. This is another example of our district’s belief that we are stronger when we work together.”

Recurring food distributions made possible by funding from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield are also part of the ongoing collaboration.

Our focus is on the whole health needs of our members,” said Beth Keyser, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s commercial health plan in Indiana. “That means taking a broader view of healthcare and addressing the social drivers of health, like access to food, which unfortunately prevents many people from achieving good health. We are committed to identifying these social drivers and working with community partners to have a positive impact on the health of Indiana.

“Food insecurity is the most commonly reported unmet social need in the country, and the impact is felt in communities across Indiana,” said Kimberly Roop, M.D., president of Anthem’s Indiana Medicaid plan. “This partnership illustrates our belief that food is medicine — that access to nutritious food is an essential part of good overall health. We are committed to being part of the solution.”   

The launch of the initiative at Brookside is part of a national campaign started in September 2021, when the partners committed to providing resources to local schools across the country to improve food insecurity.  The partnership also supports Heart of America’s mission to modernize and transform educational spaces. 

“As the national media partner in this initiative, we’re proud to work alongside Anthem and Heart of America to continue transforming school spaces across the country, including here at Brookside,” said Matt Scarano, region president, iHeartMedia. “Building companionship with our communities is central to iHeartMedia’s mission, and we’re excited to see how this food pantry and produce garden will help address food insecurity in the Brookside community.”

For 25 years, Heart of America’s inspiring modern spaces and state-of-the-art supplies help advance the work to improve the inequities in our education system.

“At Heart of America, we know that thoughtful design and resources matter. Creating a permanent food pantry with a produce garden for nutritional education, reinforces the impactful hands-on learning process. We are incredibly grateful for this partnership with Anthem, iHeartMedia, and Indianapolis Public Schools,” said Jill Hardy Heath, President & CEO of Heart of America.

Anthem has also engaged the Indiana Fever in the effort at Brookside School 54, as part of their overall partnership to make an impact on communities throughout Indiana.