The contribution from the health insurer, combined with resources from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, will provide an anticipated 245,000 meals to eligible homebound elderly persons, according to a news release.
The program, which provides five free weekly meals, is currently offered in Richland County. It will initially expand into Anderson, Clarendon and Lexington counties, and into Barnwell, Calhoun, Fairfield, Greenville, Horry, Kershaw, McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg and Williamsburg counties by early summer, according to the release. Local distribution points will be established with agencies that assist senior citizens.
“BlueCross and the BlueCross Foundation have long histories of supporting organizations that serve our state’s most vulnerable citizens,” David Pankau, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina said in the release. “This was a meaningful action we could take that would meet an unmet need and help people’s lives in basic and necessary ways.”
Andrew Boozer, Senior Resources executive director, said the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened food insecurity for senior South Carolinians. S.C. Department on Aging data shows that 200,000 residents age 60 and above are without access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.
“Senior citizens continue to be at-risk of COVID-19 spread and dire health complications from the virus,” Boozer said. “Since the outbreak began in South Carolina, the network of senior nutrition providers in the state have seen food needs increase as isolation and limited resources have made many food insecure for the first time in their lives.”