A room in the school will be converted to a permanent food pantry and on-site monthly food distributions will increase healthy food access for students and families
National nonprofit Heart of America and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, in partnership with iHeartMedia, announced today an effort aimed at serving under-resourced communities in Atlanta by addressing hunger and food insecurity in the College Park community. As part of Heart of America’s mission to transform educational spaces into modern learning environments, they will lead the design and construction of a custom food pantry at College Park Elementary School, which will help increase access to fresh and shelf-stable meals for College Park students and their families.
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Anthem volunteers distribute food to College Park Elementary School students as part of a new food pantry program to address food insecurity for Atlanta area students and their families. (Photo: Business Wire)
Based on data from Feeding America’s annual Map the Meal Gap study, approximately 1 in 5 kids in Atlanta are experiencing food insecurity. The collaboration between Heart of America, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and iHeartMedia aims to provide a practical, sustainable resource that will help College Park students and their families access healthy meals for years to come.
“As we deepen our commitment throughout the country to end educational inequity, I continue to be inspired by the way public and private partners come together in Atlanta to rally and support its community as evidenced by this partnership. Schools need every tool available to combat the challenges their students face both in and out of the classroom. This partnership will provide a practical solution for school leaders to fill the most basic needs – the food children need to live, learn and thrive,” said President & CEO of Heart of America, Jill Hardy Heath.
Targeted for completion this Fall, the food pantry will transform an unused classroom and adjoining closet into a multi-purpose space that will serve as a Clothing Closet, Food Pantry and Office for the Parent Liaison, who will help distribute these critical items to students and families. Atlanta Community Food Bank, who helps nearly 865,000 people in the Atlanta and North Georgia region receive food every year, will also support the partnership through the 2021-22 school year by providing meals, free of cost, to the College Park Elementary School community.
“This renovated space and monthly food distribution will continue to deepen our commitment to the College Park community by supporting our students and families with the resources they need in and out of our building. Our students and families need and deserve every opportunity they can to lead (and thrive), and I’m so excited about what this partnership will mean for both the short-term and long-term for our community,” said Dr. Maisha Otway, Principal of College Park Elementary School.
The program at College Park Elementary is part of an initiative being implemented in four cities with Anthem’s sister companies and Heart of America, focused on creating customized solutions to address hunger and lack of access to healthy food by building learning gardens, food pantries and teaching kitchens in high-need schools. Anthem has also engaged the WNBA franchise in each city to participate, with the Atlanta Dream joining the effort at College Park Elementary.
“Anthem has been serving Georgians for over 80 years, and we know strong communities don’t just happen. They’re the product of partnership and commitment to health for all, and we work every day to play our part,” said Pamela Stahl, president of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Georgia. “Food is a vital building block of whole person health, and we are excited to partner with Heart of America and iHeart Media to make a measurable, long-term impact on the health of the kids, families and community served by College Park Elementary School.”
iHeartMedia, the number one audio company in the United States, and its network of local and national influencers are joining the effort by raising awareness in each participating city to help listeners learn and understand that anywhere from 1-in-4 to 1-in-7 children are experiencing hunger in their communities on any given day.
Heart of America has led in addressing education inequity across the United States for nearly 25 years by delivering high-quality resources and engaging spaces to underserved students and campuses. Since its inception, Heart of America has rebuilt and revitalized nearly 800 spaces including school libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, college and career centers, tech labs and many more education spaces across North America.
About Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Georgia
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The Blue Cross Blue Shield names and symbols are registered marks of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Additional information about Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Georgia is available at www.anthem.com. Also follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AnthemBCBS or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AnthemBlueCrossBlueShield.
About Heart of America
Heart of America provides high-quality resources and transforms spaces in under-resourced schools, helping to close the gap in education spending by creating modern learning environments that are essential for children to reach their potential in a rapidly changing world. Through a six-step process that prioritizes listening and learning before taking action, HOA designs and transforms spaces, and builds partnerships, ensuring true collaboration and long-term sustainability. Heart of America has served more than two million students in need by distributing more than four million books, investing $4.5 million in technology, and transforming nearly 800 school libraries, cafeterias, gymnasiums, college and career centers, tech labs, and many more educational spaces in historically-marginalized communities across North America.
About iHeartMedia, Inc.
iHeartMedia, Inc. [Nasdaq: IHRT] is the leading audio media company in America, reaching over 250 million people each month. It is number one in both broadcast and digital streaming radio as well as podcasting and audio ad tech and includes three business segments: The iHeartMedia Multiplatform Group; the iHeartMedia Digital Audio Group; and the Audio and Media Services Group. Visit iHeartMedia.com for more company information.