Several area food banks receive funding from Univera Healthcare

Submitted Photo Laurie Matson, associate vice president of Southern Tier Services at The Evergreen Association of Western New York.

Several area food banks have received funding from Univera Healthcare and its Rochester-based parent health plan.

“The ability to earn a paycheck and feed a family are at risk for many people because of the coronavirus and its impact on the economy,” said Art Wingerter, Univera Healthcare president. “A growing number of people in our community are facing food insecurity. Good health begins with good food. We saw an opportunity to help by supporting food banks and food pantries that are under pressure because of the increased need in our communities.”

The $600,000 donation from Univera and its parent will support food banks and food pantries across the nonprofit health insurer’s 39 county upstate New York service area. In Western New York, that includes $100,000 to support six organizations in their efforts to provide food for people in need.

Those receiving grants include:

¯ FeedMore Foundation, via the WNY COVID Crisis Fund, $50,000 to be used in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Erie, and Niagara counties;

¯ Salvation Army of Jamestown, $10,000;

¯ Evergreen Health Food Pantry, $5,000;

¯ Chautauqua County Crisis Services, $5,000.

“It’s more important than ever that we continue to provide vital services such as a pantry during the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Laurie Matson, associate vice president of Southern Tier Services at The Evergreen Association of Western New York. “We are committed to improving the lives of the people in our region and this support from Univera will make a big difference.”

Food is the most basic of all needs. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly 14 percent of New York households struggled with hunger, and at least 1 million New York children lived in households that did not have regular and consistent access to food, according to the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force. Over the last few months, as New York State’s unemployment rate increased, the ability for many families to regularly have food on the table was compromised. Local food banks and pantries are straining to meet the new demand.

“Hunger is a pervasive problem in Western New York, and the COVID-19 health crisis has only exacerbated the need for food assistance in our community,” said Tara A. Ellis, president and CEO of FeedMore WNY.


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