Recognizing the essential role of nutritious food in all aspects of life, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois supported four major food banks across Illinois through an investment in Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
The investment is helping these critical front-line organizations hire and train staff, source protein and fresh produce, implement healthy eating guidelines and build intercultural competency so they’re able to meet the food needs of their neighbors. Our company and employees helped people facing hunger with additional grants and volunteer work.
Working with produce vendor T. Castro Foods, the BCBSIL Community Outreach team helped provide 145 tons of fresh produce to 100,000 people throughout Illinois.
BCBSIL and its employees helped people facing hunger with grants, food donations and volunteer work.
This includes fresh produce distributed at 36 farmers markets organized by our three Blue Door Neighborhood CenterSM locations in Chicago, as well as 3,000 turkeys around Thanksgiving. The Little Village Community Foundation’s Cocina Rx received a grant to distribute medically tailored meals via home delivery, retail stores and other channels. The program also provides online nutrition counseling and virtual and in-person cooking classes. Other grants helped Arab American Family Services provide congregate meals for seniors, supported New Life Centers of Chicagoland’s food distribution hub and enabled A Just Harvest to continue its hot meal delivery, food pantry pickup and grocery delivery in the Rogers Park community.
provided to 100,000 people
We continue to make business investments in our communities, providing new sources of jobs, community resources and economic activity. Our facility in the Morgan Park neighborhood combines employee workspace with a neighborhood center, providing as many as 550 jobs along with public access to no-cost activities, education and other resources that support health and well-being.
In October, BCBSIL and the Corporate Coalition of Chicago welcomed business leaders to the Morgan Park facility to encourage them to deploy their core business functions to drive economic opportunity in historically overlooked communities and improve equity in the region.
The economic vitality of our communities also relies on opportunities for young people from diverse backgrounds to learn about and pursue careers.
At three events, BCBSIL’s Institute for Physician Diversity invited high school students to learn about the many possible career paths in health care from some of our doctors and nurses, who volunteered their time to share their personal stories. “Before I went to college, I actually had not seen a physician who looked like me,” said Dr. Derek Robinson, vice president and chief medical officer for the Illinois division.
Many other investments in 2022 supported organizations dedicated to providing basic economic security for members of our communities facing difficult circumstances.
The Dream Center in Peoria provides shelter, transitional housing and programs that support families living in poverty. With an investment from BCBSIL, the organization is renovating its downtown Peoria campus to include an indoor playground and fitness area for its housing and shelter guests and participants in its after-school program and summer camp.
“Our desire is to offer opportunities to exercise and learn about healthy food choices to all of our guests and students,” says Jami Begole, the center’s development director. “Long term, we seek to create a culture that values healthy choices and regular exercise to reduce obesity and improve mental health.”
In Springfield, the Phoenix Center is expanding housing for people with HIV and members of the LGBTQ community without a safe place to live. Phoenix Center has become part of the fabric of Springfield, and people come from other areas because it’s the only full-service LGBTQ facility south of Interstate 80 in Illinois, says executive director Jonna Cooley.
An investment from BCBSIL will allow the organization to help more people thrive in a supportive and safe environment, no matter how long they stay. “It’s refreshing to see people get the things they need,” Cooley says. “This gives people an opportunity to be who they really are.”
Phoenix Center Springfield was among organizations that received grants to support basic economic security for community members facing difficult circumstances.
supported with $4 million from major grant programs
Regular physical activity can help people reduce the impact of several chronic illnesses, improve mental health, and reduce their overall health care costs. In early 2022, BCBSIL joined National Fitness Campaign to help bring 15 outdoor fitness courts to communities across Illinois.
The initiative is providing free access to exercise space and structures designed for use by people of all ages and ability levels.
“I'm excited because I need to get in shape, and this is free,” says Cynthia Gilmore, who attended an event unveiling a fitness court in Riverdale. “I walk my community all the time.
And so now I can walk and stop, workout on the fitness court, and then continue on my day.”
logged by 2,370 employees in Blue Corps
Giving our time in our communities is an important part of living our purpose. In 2022, 2,370 employees volunteered more than 56,000 hours with 789 organizations through the Blue CorpsSM program. BCBSIL donated more than $141,000 to 137 organizations in matching dollars for hours volunteered by employees.
Jessica Humke, our 2022 Volunteer of the Year, logged more than 500 volunteer hours as the coordinator of Toys for Tots of West Central Illinois.
“I believe we all grow up and exist in a world shaped by the choices we make every day,” says Humke, a senior quality and performance consultant. “If we can do something to provide a smile and positive memories for others, we can create a spark that positively influences the choices they make tomorrow.”
BCBSIL volunteers prepare meal boxes.
Last Updated: March 10, 2023