Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Awards 2016 Community Health Grant to Farm Fresh Rhode Island


Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has awarded one of six 2016 BlueAngel Community Health Grants (BACHG) to Farm Fresh Rhode Island. The $30,000 grant will support Farm Fresh’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program, which provides free nutrition education to low-income families and incentives for families receiving nutrition assistance vouchers that can be redeemed for fresh, local produce.

Farm Fresh’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Families program empowers low-income Rhode Island families with the tools to shop for and cook affordable fresh foods through a series of hands-on activities, offered in English and Spanish, at summer farmers markets. Healthy Foods, Healthy Families staff engage families by providing free samples, games, recipes, financial incentives, and giveaways. The BACHG support will help Farm Fresh Rhode Island reach a proposed 2,100 children and their families, with a focus on families receiving benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

The occurrence of childhood obesity in America has tripled, and today nearly one in three children between the ages of 2 and 19 years old are obese or overweight. Children and adolescents who are overweight or obese are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma, sleep apnea, joint pain, along with several other acute and chronic health problems. Aside from obesity’s physical consequences, obese children and youth are susceptible to unique social and psychological problems like stigmatization, bullying, and low self-esteem. Childhood obesity also costs up to $14 billion per year in direct healthcare costs.

For the third year in a row, the BlueAngel Community Health Grant program will focus on this critical issue. This year, six new grants and six transitional grants totaling $286,000 will be awarded to 2016 BACHG recipients.

“Our BlueAngel Community Health Grant program provides us a vehicle to continue to have a meaningful impact on our community,” said Carolyn Belisle, Managing Director of Community Relations at BCBSRI. “Farm Fresh understands that the health of our state is largely dependent on the food we eat, and we are pleased to partner with them on this important work.”

Farm Fresh Rhode Island is a growing local food system that values the environment, health and quality of life of Rhode Islanders. The organization thrives to preserve local farmland, build healthier communities, increase access to fresher and tastier food as well as strengthen community-based businesses. Farm Fresh has a vision of a New England abundant with diverse family farms and fertile soils, with locally and honestly produced foods and flavors at the heart of every table.

The BACHG program awards local organizations that teach and support healthy habits, from better nutrition to increased physical activity. BCBSRI accepts and reviews proposals for the BACHG program once a year. Each letter of intent received is reviewed to determine compliance with eligibility and funding priorities. Grant award winners were notified in December 2015 with funding beginning in January 2016.

About the BACHG Program

The BACHG program was launched in 2002 and since then has invested more than $3 million into quality programs that have touched the lives of more than 257,000 people in the state. The program is a key component in BCBSRI’s vision of enhancing the quality of life for Rhode Islanders by increasing the quality of and access to healthcare services. The BACHGs are made possible by the BCBSRI Community Health Fund, a corporate donor-advised fund of The Rhode Island Foundation.

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