Addressing Food Security in Central New York

Eighty percent of what influences a person’s health doesn’t happen in a doctor’s office. Rather it’s attributed to socioeconomic and environmental factors, including access to food, transportation and housing.

In central and northern New York, one in eight people in the area is considered food insecure, and among the thousands who depend on charitable food programs, 29 percent are children 18 or younger, according to the Food Bank of Central New York.

To help those who may be experiencing food insecurity, UnitedHealthcare, in conjunction with the Food Bank of Central New York, recently held two fresh produce markets in Syracuse, offering free healthy food to anyone who needs it.

“Produce is an essential component of a wholesome meal and New York state is bountiful in the summer,” said Kathleen Stress, executive director of the Food Bank of Central New York. “We are delighted to partner with UnitedHealthcare to ensure that families have access to these nutritious foods.”

A dozen UnitedHealthcare employees volunteered to help set up the two markets and hand out food. They distributed 9,180 pounds of sweet corn, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, peaches, tomatoes, cheese and more, to more than 380 households – or 1,700 people.

“Our mission is to help people live healthier lives, and we know access to fresh food is a critical part of that,” said Michael McGuire, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of New York. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with the Food Bank of Central New York to positively impact the Central New York community.”