Feed Our Veterans Receives Excellus BCBS Community Health Award

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield recently awarded Feed Our Veterans (Feed Our Vets) a Community Health Award of $2,000. Feed Our Vets helps put food on the tables of our local veterans and active-duty military through their food pantry in New York Mills. Veterans in need can shop for a variety of food including fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and dairy products free of charge at the pantry. 

“Feed Our Vets offers a wide variety of healthy foods that allow our veterans and their families to live the lifestyle they deserve,” explains Richard Synek, Founder and Executive Director of Feed Our Vets. “Many veterans suffer from mental health issues and having a reliable source of food can help eliminate the additional stress caused by food insecurity.” The pantry offers a welcoming environment of dignity and respect where veterans can connect with others who have shared their experience.  Feed Our Vets also invites nutritionists onsite to help veterans learn healthier ways to cook meals.

The mission of Feed Our Vets is to feed hungry and homeless military veterans, their spouses and children throughout New York State. Since 2009, Feed Our Vets has provided free food assistance to more than 37,918 Veterans and their family members, distributing 2,797,294 lbs. of food.  

Many veterans who return home struggle with both physical and mental injuries and many end up jobless and homeless.  The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports nearly 13% of the homeless adult population are veterans. And according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are more than twice as likely to be food insecure. “Feed Our Vets believes it is our duty to give back to these men and women who have given so much for our country,” said Synek.

Through a competitive application process, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Community Health Awards provide funding to launch, expand, and sustain programs and services that promote health. These investments advance health equity by extending the reach of preventive health services or health-promoting programs to vulnerable populations. The health plan’s corporate giving follows all applicable laws and regulations and does not support funding organizations that conflict with its corporate mission, goals, policies, or products.

 “The company’s Community Health Awards demonstrate a corporate commitment to support local organizations that share our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Eve Van de Wal, Utica regional president of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. “We recognize that addressing social determinants of health, such as food insecurity, is vital to the health and wellbeing of our communities and we are pleased to support Feed Our Veterans with this essential community health funding.”

Several other groups in the region received the Community Health Award, including Clinton Chamber of Commerce, Make-A-Wish Central New York, the Midtown Utica Community Center and the Rescue Mission of Utica, Inc.