Helping fill America’s food pantries

Bags of food collected at the Hockomock area YMCA in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

Heather once visited a food bank for her elderly neighbors. Now, she needs help feeding her family. She’s not alone.

Heather, a married mother of two, rolled down her car window, took a deep breath for courage and quietly asked the masked volunteer for an extra bag of free food.

Over the past few weeks, Heather picked up bags from the makeshift food bank at the Attleboro area Hockomock YMCA in Franklin, Massachusetts to deliver to her elderly neighbors. But today was different.

Heather was unexpectedly furloughed from her job due to COVID-19-related shutdowns — and now her own family needed help. As she took the bag full of food from the YMCA employee, she says relief spread though her body with the knowledge that her kids would have a healthy dinner that night.

“I was worried I would have to feed my kids boxed macaroni and cheese, but the bag was full of fruits and vegetables,” Heather says.

Heather’s experience with food insecurity is one of many playing out across America in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. According to an April 2020 survey from Feeding America, a national nonprofit organization with a network of more than 200 food banks and 60,000 partner organizations, an estimated 40% of people seeking donations were visiting a food bank for the first time in their life. Equally concerning: 95% of its food banks saw more people needing help compared to last year, with an average 70% increase in demand for food assistance.

Hockomock area YMCA Board Chairman Mary Clermont and President Ed Hurley loading food into a vehicle.
Attleboro, Massachusetts, Hockomock area YMCA Board Chairman Mary Clermont and President Ed Hurley load food. On a recent Wednesday, 780 bags were picked up.

Eileen Howard Boone, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy at CVS Health, says the crisis took America by surprise and created a need for basic food and necessities in a way the country has never experienced before.

Because nearly 60% of a person’s life expectancy is influenced by social determinants of health — such as food insecurity — CVS Health has made community health and wellness central to its corporate social responsibility. The company provided a $1 million donation to support community and employee needs amid the pandemic, including $250,000 to support Feeding America.

Food insecurities also create added COVID vulnerability for the country’s most at-risk citizens — those with fewer resources, chronic health conditions and less mobility. “Food and health are closely linked, making it essential for us to help those facing food insecurity,” says Boone. “We have supported organizations of all sizes to help address that need quickly and efficiently. We are really all in this together.”

For Heather, CVS Health’s commitment is life-changing.

For more information about CVS Health’s efforts to improve care across the nation, visit our News & Insights page and the CVS Health Impact Dashboard. To stay informed about the latest updates and innovations from CVS Health, register for content alerts and our Leaders in Care newsletter.

05.19.20