If you have regular access to healthy food, safe housing and transportation, it can be easy to take those things for granted. But the fact is, across the country, many individuals and families struggle with poverty and associated problems like food insecurity, especially when it comes to our nation’s seniors.
In Washington, D.C. alone, more than 1 in 6 seniors or 17.7 percent struggle to access healthy foods, according to the United Health Foundation’s 2019 America’s Health Rankings Senior Report.
To help address these challenges, hundreds of UnitedHealth Group employees recently gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to participate in AARP Foundation’s Meal Pack Challenge. Volunteers helped pack one million meals that were then distributed by Capital Area Food Bank to local seniors in need.
The Meal Pack Challenge is part of AARP Foundation’s Celebration of Service, supported by sponsors like UnitedHealth Group. The company has supported AARP Foundation for more than two decades and has sponsored the Meal Pack Challenge since its inception in Washington, D.C. in 2015.
“The Celebration of Service is a great example of how we can come together as a community to shine a spotlight on the issue of senior hunger and the importance of volunteering,” said Caroline Anderson, executive director of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement in Virginia. “UnitedHealth Group is proud to sponsor the Meal Pack Challenge for the fifth year in a row, and it’s wonderful to see so many new volunteers alongside our colleagues who have been to this event year after year.”
There is increasing recognition that social, emotional and environmental conditions like food insecurity, known as social determinants of health (SDOH), play an important role in overall health and well-being.
People experiencing food insecurity are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and depression, which adds an estimated $160.7 billion annually in health care costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Research shows that consuming nutritious food on a regular basis may help improve health, preventing or alleviating many diet-related diseases.
Learn more about how UnitedHealth Group is working to expand access to the social determinants of health, one person at a time.