Durham, N.C. – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) announced today an investment of $2.6 million in three nonprofits fighting hunger across the state: Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC (FBCENC), Meals on Wheels of NC (MOWNC) and MANNA FoodBank. The funds will support food assistance programs and increase access to healthy foods in underserved communities across more than 65 of North Carolina’s counties.


In North Carolina, one in seven people struggle with hunger.[1] Long-term food insecurity has been linked to negative health outcomes and increases in chronic diseases and poor performance in school.[2] By investing in better access to healthy foods, these programs will increase the overall health of our state.


“Nutritious food is essential to good health,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, President and CEO of Blue Cross NC. “The problem is, too many people in our state don’t have access to the food they need and therefore go hungry. Increasing access to good food in our communities will go a long way in improving the health of people across North Carolina.”


Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC

The FBCENC has served the state since 1980 with soup kitchens, food pantries and educational programs. Last year, FBCENC distributed nearly 70-million pounds of food throughout its 34-county service area.

  • The FBCENC focuses on the link between the medical benefits of nutritious food and overall health.
  • Funding will support the development of an outpatient food pantry in partnership with Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, N.C. Patients can be referred to the pantry by providers and “prescribed” a box of nutritious food.
  • This investment also allows FBCENC to expand its Community Health & Engagement Department, which launched in 2017.


MANNA FoodBank

In Western North Carolina, MANNA works to improve access to good food for food-insecure people across its 16-county service area.

  • This investment supports MANNA’s Nutrition Works initiative, a program focused on diagnosing people suffering from food insecurity and providing access to food through partner organizations.
  • The funds will also support the launch of a Mobile Food Pantry, a new program designed to address food and pantry deserts in the most remote areas across Western North Carolina.


Meals on Wheels of NC

MOWNC prioritizes the nutrition of senior adults in North Carolina and strives to provide the highest quality representation, education and services to all people who interact with the group.

  • North Carolina is currently ranked third nationally for the highest rate of senior malnutrition[3] and ninth nationally in both total population and number of people older than 65.
  • The funds will be used to support all day-to-day functions of MOWNC across 40 counties.


About the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina

The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina is a nonprofit organization that has provided food for people at risk of hunger in 34 counties in central and eastern North Carolina for more than 35 years. The Food Bank serves a network of more than 800 partner agencies such as soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and programs for children and adults through warehouses in Durham, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, the Sandhills (Southern Pines), and Wilmington. In fiscal year 2017-2018, the Food Bank distributed nearly 70 million pounds of food (over half of which was perishable) and non-food essentials through these agencies. Sadly, hunger remains a serious problem in central and eastern North Carolina. In these counties, more than 600,000 people struggle to access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for an active and healthy life. Visit FBCENC online at foodbankcenc.org.


About Meals on Wheels of North Carolina:

The Meals on Wheels Association of North Carolina is a non-profit statewide network of senior nutrition providers allied in passion to end senior hunger in partnership with the Meals on Wheels Association of America. Created to strengthen communication between nutrition programs and enhance knowledge of issues within the aging population of North Carolina, the organization aims to provide the highest quality service and representation to program participants. For more information, visit MOWANC online at www.mowanc.org.


About MANNA FoodBank:

MANNA FoodBank is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving Western North Carolina since 1983. As an accredited member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger relief organization, the mission of MANNA FoodBank is to involve, educate, and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina. MANNA serves over 200 community-based non-profit food assistance agencies in 16 Western North Carolina counties and distributed 18.2 million pounds of food in 2017/2018. For more information, visit MANNAFoodbank.org, or call 828-299-FOOD.


About Blue Cross NC:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina improves the health and well-being of our customers and communities by providing innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.89 million members, including approximately 1 million served on behalf of other Blue Plans. Since 1933, we have worked to make North Carolina a better place to live through our support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. We have been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by Ethisphere Institute every year since 2012. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Visit Blue Cross online at www.bluecrossnc.com. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.