In 2018, Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) companies invested $382 million in community health initiatives to support the health and well-being of the communities we serve. Here at Blue KC, we’re proud to take part in these efforts to make an impact on the Kansas City community.
As Blue KC’s Manager of Community Relations and Investment, I’m fortunate to work with a group of passionate professionals in and outside of Blue KC to play an active role in how we invest in improving the Kansas City community. To do this, we launched a community health initiative last year called Well Stocked, a program aimed to improve access to nutritious food for the people in our community that need it.
In search of an initiative that would align with our company’s focus on the health of our community, we explored many different issues around health. Ultimately, we decided to focus on improving healthy food accessibility because we know how important proper nutrition is on a person’s health and well-being. What you put in your body has a direct impact on your health so having access to affordable and nutritious food is necessary to help families and individuals thrive. No one should have to make a choice between eating or paying their utility bill or should travel great distances for healthy food options.
Across all Blues plans, employees volunteered over 572,000 hours last year. Here in Kansas City, our staff volunteered over 10,000 hours in 2018, part of which was to support Well Stocked.
Kansas City pride runs deep throughout the halls of Blue KC, making our employees excited and ready to help the community. Our Well Stocked initiative was eagerly embraced by our employees who understand how important it is for people to eat healthy, and believe that everyone deserves to have access to healthy foods. Given their connection to this investment, our staff is always ready to volunteer their time and resources to support the Well Stocked effort.
Last fall, Blue KC employees came together to support a Well Stocked activity hosted by one of our partners, After the Harvest, an organization that keeps farm-grown fruits and vegetables from going to waste. As a team, Blue KC employees gleaned over 1,200 pounds of fresh produce to donate to local agencies that serve the hungry.
The Kansas City community at large has also embraced our Well Stocked initiative. We owe a special thanks to our partners (all noted below) who have been instrumental in helping us create events and programs to raise awareness around the importance of food accessibility. Through a combination of diverse partners, we have been able to connect with the community whether through a panel discussion series or a meal share program at a local community college, to help Kansas Citians understand the direct correlation between health and hunger. Here are our current partners:
- Harvesters Community Food Network
- After the Harvest
- Johnson County Community College (JCCC) Meal Share Program
- Cultivate KC
- West Central Missouri Community Action Agency (WCMCAA)
- Kansas City Community Gardens
If you’re a member of our community looking to get involved in helping connect fellow Kansas Citians to nutritious food options, we encourage you to get out and support our local Well Stocked partners. A good start is to visit your local farmer’s market – buy local produce and educate yourself on food access in Kansas City.
What’s Next for Well Stocked
Kansas City has over 8,700 registered nonprofits, all making a difference in the lives of people every day. We are working to do our part to make sure those nonprofits are supported and have the funds they need to move forward with their missions.
For Well Stocked, we are just getting started. We have exciting new partnerships that we look forward to beginning and long-standing partnerships that we will continue to grow. Also, just on the horizon, Blue KC in partnership with Harvesters, will be celebrating our donation of over 1 million meals to Kansas City residents.
Well Stocked is only one effort of many throughout the United States working on addressing community health. In my role at Blue KC, I work closely with Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the country to share ideas and goals. Check out the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association’s 2018 Community Investment Report to learn how other Blues plans are tackling these hard-hitting issues in their communities.
To learn more about Well Stocked, visit BlueKC.com.
Manager, Community Relations and Investment
Macaela Stephenson is the Manager of Community Relations and Investment at Blue KC. Macaela is responsible for overseeing philanthropic giving, internal and external volunteering, sponsorships, community partnerships and Blue KC’s giving strategy, including corporate social responsibility.