Cigna Healthcare, the health benefits provider under The Cigna Group (NYSE: CI), is taking a proactive stance this autumn to combat food insecurity among older Americans. With a significant investment of $1 million, the company aims to make a substantial impact by supporting both national and community-based organizations. This initiative is expected to provide over 3 million meals to those in need, enhance access to 1.88 million pounds of fresh produce, and contribute to the conservation of 21 million gallons of water and the reduction of 2.89 tons of CO2e emissions through responsible food distribution. These efforts align with the goal of improving health outcomes while positively impacting the environment.
Dr. J.B. Sobel, Chief Medical Officer for Cigna Healthcare’s Medicare business, emphasized the importance of addressing food insecurity, particularly among older adults. He noted, “Too many people in our country, including older adults, face challenges with food insecurity, which can lead to worsening health and vitality. Older adults are more likely to have various health conditions requiring specific diets to maintain and improve their health. Regular, reliable, healthy food can improve the health and vitality of those we serve, and we are committed to giving each person the opportunity to live well.”
A total of 56 innovative programs spanning 12 states will receive crucial financial support from Cigna Healthcare. These funds will enable these programs to reach thousands of seniors grappling with food insecurity. The recipient organizations encompass a wide range of entities, including local Meals on Wheels chapters, food banks, senior-focused coalitions, and veteran centers. The sponsorships will also bolster food- and nutrition-based initiatives such as food pantries, mobile food deliveries, and nutritional meal boxes.
Cigna Healthcare’s commitment extends beyond these local efforts. The company has become the exclusive sponsor of The Farmlink Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting farms with surplus harvests to communities throughout the United States. By facilitating this connection between farmers and food banks, Cigna Healthcare is helping make nutritious food more accessible to those in need.
Aidan Reilly, Co-founder and Head of Partnerships at The Farmlink Project, expressed gratitude for the partnership, saying, “We are incredibly proud to be partnering with Cigna Healthcare to rescue millions of meals this season. Access to fresh and healthy food is vital for anyone to reach their healthiest, fullest potential, yet millions of Americans struggle with food insecurity each year. Through this partnership, we will be able to provide access to fresh produce to families across the country throughout the fall and holiday seasons, a time when it is needed most.”
Presently, one in 14 seniors in the United States faces hunger, and six in 10 Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease, many of which are exacerbated by unhealthy diets. These diet-related chronic diseases account for nearly 20% of all U.S. healthcare costs annually.
Food insecurity is a significant barrier that impedes access to healthcare and contributes to health disparities. Cigna Healthcare’s commitment to addressing food insecurity among seniors is aligned with its offering of Medicare Advantage plans, which serve hundreds of thousands of older adults nationwide.