Feeding America, Ken­tucky’s Heartland and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield are continuing a lengthy partnership that will help meet the need to provide fresh and healthy produce in FAKH’s service area.

With Anthem’s new three-year commitment of $420,000, Feeding America will be able to host 150 fresh produce distribution events that will provide nearly 1.9 million pounds of produce to 75,000 households in need.

“We know that oftentimes fresh produce items can be expensive, and as such will be one of the first items left off the plates of people dealing with food insecurity,” said Jamie Sizemore, FAKH executive director in a news release. “Anthem understands the need for nutritious, healthy food. Thanks to their generosity, we will continue to have several produce options available to those we serve, which, in turn, will aid in overall health.”

Since its establishment in 2019, Feeding America’s partnership with Anthem has facilitated nearly 100 fresh produce food distributions and meant nearly 925,000 pounds of fresh produce have been put into the hands of those facing hunger in the nonprofit’s 42-county service area.

The new agreement is part of a larger initiative which includes God’s Pantry Food Bank in Lexington and Dare to Care Food Bank in Louisville. Anthem has pledged nearly $1.5 million over three years to help fight food and nutrition insecurity in Kentucky.

“Anthem recognizes the complexity of health and knows that living well is about more than just receiving medical care. The best health happens when we address its many drivers, including reliable access to healthy food,” Neil Steffens, president of Anthem’s Medi­care Central Region said in the release. “We’ve served Kentuckians for more than 80 years and will continue to help our nonprofit community serve our neighbors in need.”

Sizemore said food insecurity continues to be a significant issue in the state, and has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Effects will be felt for years to come.

“Need for FAKH’s services has risen on average 20 percent since the start of the pandemic,” Sizemore said in the release. “The partnership with Anthem has been a huge asset during this time of increased need and we look forward to continuing to work together to provide fresh produce to those facing hunger in our service area.”