The Anthem Foundation and LISC Indianapolis on Tuesday announced a major effort to provide more equitable food access, starting with one Indianapolis neighborhood.
The foundation pledged $2.45 million to LISC Indianapolis to create and coordinate the three-year initiative.
Organizers said they would use a streamlined request-for-proposals process that opens on April 8 to choose the neighborhood.
“Food insecurity is present in every neighborhood across our country, including in our headquarters city of Indianapolis,” Dr. Shantanu Agrawal, chief health officer for Anthem Inc., said in written remarks. “Building on our community-driven legacy, and vision to enable a system of health, not just health care, we are excited to launch this effort in collaboration with a leading local advocate, that will help us re-think our food system from the ground up. Ridding the country of this pressing issue will require bold ideas and community collaboration.”
The initiative is expected to implement evidence-based strategies with the goal of increasing equitable food access and food security efforts in the chosen neighborhood.
Food security is the most commonly reported problem in the United States, but is much worse in certain communities. Anthem Inc. provides a food insecurity web tool, Close to Home, which maps publicly available food insecurity data in every ZIP code in America.
The lack of regular access to nutritious food leads to significant disparities in health outcomes, Anthem said, and “underlines why a broad and systemic approach to solving food access and security is required.”
LISC Indianapolis said it plans to collaborate with local partners, including the city’s new Division of Community Nutrition and Policy, to facilitate neighborhood selection through an open and inclusive process.
The community that is selected will determine which food projects will be supported, launched or expanded.
Possible projects include community kitchens, infrastructure support for farmers, grocery projects and mobile markets.
LISC is working with the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center to organize virtual training to assist neighborhoods in developing proposals in response to the RFP. The training is scheduled for April 1.
The neighborhood that is selected for investment will organize a community-based planning and implementation process.
Moving forward, Anthem Foundation plans to to work with other philanthropic and business partners in Indianapolis to develop the fund to support additional neighborhoods.
“We are grateful for Anthem Foundation’s commitment to addressing food access in Indianapolis neighborhoods by investing in this comprehensive and collaborative initiative,” said Jessica Guilfoy, vice president of field excellence for LISC, in written remarks. “More than ever before, we need solutions that not only directly impact food insecurity and improve healthy food access, but also support economic mobility, racial equity, and community resiliency.”
LISC Indianapolis is the local office of Local Initiatives Support Corp., the nation’s leading community development organization.