Food insecurity is defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. In the United States, food insecurity affects 1 in 8 people.
The six-week long food drive aimed to bring awareness to the fact that 1 in 5 households served by a local food bank has at least one member who has served, or is currently serving, in the U.S. military.
“Hunger and food insecurity don’t usually come to mind when we think of our military and the veteran community,” said Mark Iorio, Central West Region Medicare President for Humana. “Humana is always looking for partnerships that can help us improve the health and well-being of the communities we serve. We are proud to have partnered with the VFW Department of Arizona and St. Mary’s Food Bank to bring awareness to this important issue.”
The food drive kicked off on Jan. 19, 2019, with a rucksack march during the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon Series. More than 45 participants carried food in backpacks along the 5K route to bring awareness to food insecurity, raising close to 500 pounds on the first day of the drive. In the military, soldiers carry heavily-loaded rucksacks, similar to a backpack, over a long distance for training purposes.
“With summer fast approaching and the need for emergency food sure to increase, we rely on great friends like Humana and the Veterans of Foreign Wars to allow us to serve all those in need,” St. Mary’s President and CEO Tom Kertis said. “This year’s ‘March Out Hunger Food Drive’ was not only successful in raising food but in shining light on the problem of food insecurity among our Veterans. St. Mary’s is proud to make our services available to those who have bravely served our country and their families.”
“Last year I was shocked and saddened to discover the impact food insecurity has on America’s veterans, and I knew the VFW had to step up and fight this disheartening injustice,” said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. “No one should be food insecure – especially our veterans – and we’re honored to work alongside Humana and community champions like the St. Mary’s Food Bank to help do our part in this important initiative.”
Last year, Humana partnered with Feeding America (the national network of regional food banks) to stage a series of events throughout the year that drove food donations and raised awareness of food insecurity with a focus on helping veterans. The initiative is continuing in 2019. In addition, Humana is a national affiliate partner of the VFW.