Upstate Family Health Center Receives Excellus’ Health and Wellness Award

From left, Torie Hairston, senior director of Integrated Health at Upstate Family Health Center; Eve Van de Wal, regional president Excellus BCBS; Patrice Hallock, a professor at Utica University and a volunteer at Upstate Family Health Center; and Shayna Keller, community investments and partnerships manager for Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield recently awarded the Upstate Family Health Center (UFHC) a $5,000 Health and Wellness Award to support its Low Barrier Emergency Food Cupboard.

This program was created to provide patients in need with balanced food bags for individuals presenting to the clinic in need.

“This generous donation will have a major impact in helping us meet our goal of providing our patients with balanced meals,” said Torie Hairston, senior director of integrated health at Upstate Family Health Center. “What sets this program apart is the fact that we have made the food supplies available, while eliminating barriers such as showing identification and providing documentation. This eliminates stigmas and embarrassment which can often prevent individuals from seeking help.”

UFHC created the cupboard after an evaluation of patient needs indicated a prevalence of food in-security. Food insecurity is associated with lower school performance for children, low physical activity, poor general physical health and illness, and poor mental health.

Food insecurity impacts individuals across the lifespan and can lead to anemia, cognitive problems, behavioral problems, depression, anxiety, and asthma. It is also associated with unhealthy weight control behaviors and disordered eating.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Health and Wellness Awards support programs that conduct ongoing work or initiatives designed to improve community health and health outcomes. Health disparities are complex and can have many causes. These awards are given to programs that address specific health conditions or factors linked to health disparities.

“Identifying and combatting health issues including food insecurity is core to our mission as a nonprofit health plan,” said Eve Van de Wal, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield regional president. “We are proud to present Upstate Family Health Center with community health funding to help meet their patients’ needs and provide them with essential meals and nutrition.”

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is committed to supporting local organizations that improve community health. The company’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.

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield’s Utica region encompasses Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego and St. Lawrence counties.