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Anthem, LISC Indianapolis Launch Community-Driven Initiative to Help Build a More Equitable Food Sys

Updated: Oct 29, 2021

3.30.2021 — Press Releases

Anthem Foundation and LISC Indianapolis are launching a major effort to improve nutritious food access and build a more equitable food system. The initiative is a commitment to increase sustainable access to nutritious food by empowering and investing in a community-driven plan. Anthem Foundation has committed $2.45 million over a three-year period to LISC Indianapolis to create and coordinate this approach to a systemic issue. Beginning this year, the initiative will implement evidence-based strategies with the goal of increasing equitable food access and food security efforts in one Indianapolis community.

Food insecurity is present in every neighborhood across our country, including in our headquarters city of Indianapolis. Building on our community-driven legacy, and vision to enable a system of health,not just healthcare, we are excited to launch this effort in collaboration with a leading local advocate, that will help us re-think our food system from the ground up,” said Shantanu Agrawal, Chief Health Officer, Anthem, Inc. “Ridding the country of this pressing issue will require bold ideas and community collaboration.

Food security is the most commonly reported unmet social need in the United States – with nearly 40% of households reporting moderate to high levels of food insecurity. Its impact is felt in every community across the country; however, the crisis is far worse in certain communities, with significant disparity experienced just miles apart. Anthem’s Close to Home food insecurity tool, which maps publicly available food insecurity data in every zip code in America, helps put the scale of this crisis into context, and tracks the drivers of disparity. For instance, in central Indiana alone, Marion County experiences childhood food insecurity at nine percent higher rates than neighboring Hamilton County. This disparity, fueled by access to nutritious food and underpinned by race, ethnic, and economic differences, lead to significant disparities in health outcomes and underline why a broad and systemic approach to solving food access and security is required.

In recent years, Anthem has been deeply focused on addressing food security, the inconsistent and insufficient access to nutritious food, along with other critical factors that influence the whole health of individuals, families and communities. By addressing these critical social drivers of health, which include access to transportation, housing, technology, and environmental factors, Anthem is focused on the often unmet elements which can make the difference in health and prosperity.

We are grateful for Anthem Foundation's commitment to addressing food access in Indianapolis neighborhoods by investing in this comprehensive and collaborative initiative," said Jessica Guilfoy, Vice President of Field Excellence for LISC. “More than ever before, we need solutions that not only directly impact food insecurity and improve healthy food access, but also support economic mobility, racial equity, and community resiliency.”

How the Initiative will Work

Through collaboration with partners, including Indianapolis’ new Division of Community Nutrition and Policy, LISC Indianapolis will facilitate neighborhood selection through an open and inclusive process. Each community will determine which food projects will be supported, launched or expanded. Examples include but are not limited to community kitchens, infrastructure support for farmers, grocery projects, mobile markets and more. Emphasis will be placed on ensuring all projects improve food access and economic mobility for the neighborhood, are community-led, and help build racial equity.

The streamlined RFP process for neighborhood selection will open on April 8. LISC is collaborating with Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center to facilitate a virtual community training to assist neighborhoods in developing a collaborative proposal in response to the RFP. This training will take place on April 1. Once the neighborhood is selected for investment, a community-based planning and implementation process will begin that convenes residents, community leaders, subject matter experts and civic organizations to develop a vision of equitable food access, coupled with strategies for physical developments, programmatic partnerships and investment to achieve that vision.

Moving forward, Anthem Foundation will continue to work with other philanthropic and business partners in Indianapolis to develop the fund to support additional neighborhoods.

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