LIMA — With the help of a $30,000 donation from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Ohio, the West Ohio Food Bank purchased a new, larger distribution van.
Linda Hamilton, CEO of WOFB, said 100% of the proceeds went to purchasing and wrapping the van, which is much larger and safer than what they had previously been using.
“Looking at safety, that’s an important factor we always look at, as well as being able to distribute more pallets of food instead of having to take a large truck out,” she said. “We’re able to get out more senior boxes or we’re able to go to different locations and just distribute fresh produce out of (the van) instead of having to take a large truck out that is normally picking up at retail grocery stores food that would be throwing away.”
The food bank partnered with Anthem just about a year ago to inform and give the community better access to healthcare beyond the need for food.
“This partnership is so good because when we are doing distributions like this for seniors or our regular food distribution once or twice a month, Anthem is actually able to come and talk to clients and let them know about additional services they may not even be aware are available for them,” Hamilton said. “An example is we had a volunteer who was having some medical problems, and the insurance she had didn’t really cover some of the procedures she needed. … Being able to connect her with Anthem volunteers and staff, we were able to get her the additional medical help she needed.”
Rob Cleary, regional vice president with Anthem, said they are trying to partner with more groups like WOFB around the state to broaden the way they can help their clients’ well being.
“From Anthem’s perspective, everything we do is around our members’ health and well being, so we talk a lot about the fact that it’s hard to focus on your health and well being if you don’t have enough to eat,” Cleary said. “We’re becoming more and more focused on what the industry is calling the social determinants of health — let’s just call them social needs, like food and security. There’s a lot of folks who don’t have transportation to go to a pharmacy or a doctor’s office, so now many of our plans, especially for Medicare customers, offer transportation benefits.”
The WOFB serves an 11-county area. A full list of area pantries and distribution times can be found at westohiofoodbank.org.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.