LIMA — West Ohio Food Bank and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield continued to grow their partnership on Thursday morning, with Anthem presenting the food bank with a $25,000 donation. The contribution is a portion of the $295,000 that Anthem has pledged to donate to food banks across the state.
West Ohio Food Bank CEO Tommie Harner says that having Anthem as a partner is as critical as ever, providing them with funds to help families in need.
“Over the past year, we have seen a huge increase of pounds that we’ve distributed and families we’ve served,” she said. “We’ve seen over 12,000 new families use our services in the last year, so this money is helping to continue those distributions and that outreach within our eleven counties.”
Thursday also marked the first monthly food distribution event for the food bank. The National Guard had previously been distributing food throughout the state, but their mission officially ended in early July.
The check was presented to West Ohio Food Bank by Greg LaManna, Anthem’s Ohio Medicaid Plan President. Other representatives from Anthem came to the food bank for the day to help with distribution.
“We want to be able to give back and be committed to the community,” he said. “This is, especially in COVID time, extremely important. We’re honored to give not only the $25,000 check that’s going to provide over 150,000 meals, but also volunteer and put in some sweat equity handing out the boxes to those who need it this morning.”
Among those from Anthem who came out to volunteer was Natalie Conyers, who was instrumental in building the relationship between the company and the food bank in recent years. While she specializes in community outreach, one of her favorite parts of the job is being able to help those in need.
“The most rewarding part (of the job) is when I’m able to do this kind of stuff, when I’m able to go to the food pantries, when I’m able to contribute to the food pantries, when I’m able to help people who are coming to the food pantries,” she said. “We’re a healthcare organization, so we can teach them all the additional benefits that are available to them.”
After helping provide West Ohio Food Bank with a food truck last year, the money that the food bank received from Anthem this year can be used in any way, giving them the opportunity to strengthen their mission to end hunger in west Ohio.