INDIANAPOLIS – Low-income seniors across the state aren’t getting enough to eat, and many don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Half of Indiana seniors report having troubles eating healthy, which causes increased risk of chronic diseases and reduced quality-of-life.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation today awarded a $4.4 million Connecting Older Hoosiers with Healthful Foods grant to the IAAAA Education Institute, Inc. Kristen LaEace, CEO of Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the IAAAA Education Institute, and Tauhric Brown, president and CEO of CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions, accepted the grant. CICOA is the largest of the state’s 15 area agencies on aging. The organizations provide services to help low-income seniors live as healthy and independently as possible.
“We are thankful for this generous grant from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation to help us get fresh produce to seniors who are living in areas where they either can’t afford fresh produce or they live in a food desert, where it’s simply not available,” Brown said. “This grant will go a long way toward helping our most vulnerable citizens get the nutrients they need to live their best lives.
Following the announcement of the grant at Shelby Senior Services, Brown presented findings from a 2021 Community Assessment Survey for Older Adults, which showed a concerning trend in Indiana: About half of older adults reported a lack of accessible, affordable quality food.
Each of the area agencies on aging will partner with local food banks, food pantries and producers to obtain fresh produce, which will be provided to participating seniors at senior meal sites or as part of home delivered meals. Seniors also will receive information and tips on preparing healthy meals.
“This grant will help address food insecurity in Indiana and is just one part of up to $30 million our parent company’s foundation plans to invest over the next three years to support food as medicine programs across the U.S.,” said Beth Keyser, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Indiana. “As an organization, we take a broad, holistic view of health and that means working with community partners to address hunger and other social factors that prevent individuals from living a healthy life.”
Connecting Older Hoosiers with Healthful Foods is a collaboration among the area agencies on aging, Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, its 11 food bank members and the Indiana University Center for Aging Research (IUCAR).
“Access to nutritious food is a key social determinant of health that impacts quality health outcomes,” said LaEace. “We appreciate the importance the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation is placing on health equity with this investment. Another promising aspect is our partnership with IUCAR and the participants themselves, which will allow us to measure the impact of this investment over time on participants’ health, including malnutrition risk, weight, blood pressure and the ability to remain in their own homes.”