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Nutrition: Illinois

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) identified three key partners to provide children and their families regular access to nutritious, whole foods to promote healthy bodies and engaged learning. These partners not only provide access to food for families plagued by food insecurity or residing in food deserts, but also broaden children’s understanding of where food comes from by:

  • Connecting families to urban gardens that grow fresh vegetables;
  • Teaching them how to prepare healthy foods in cooking classes; and
  • Helping them understand the connection between what they eat and overall health and well-being for themselves, their families, and their communities.

We are supporting our communities’ next generation of leaders as they identify healthy living solutions that keep people active and improve eating behaviors as a key strategy for obesity and disease prevention.

Learn about our Illinois partners:

Gary Comer Youth Center
The Gary Comer Youth Center (GCYC) offers positive extracurricular education in a welcoming and safe environment with a mission of preparing high school students to graduate and pursue a college education and career. BCBSIL supports GCYC’s innovative Community Health and Wellness Initiative, which educates youth about the importance of fitness and nutrition through learning projects at its rooftop garden and adjacent urban youth farm. In a low-income community recognized as a food desert, this program uses a multi-pronged approach to health and wellness by combining knowledge of agriculture, healthy cooking, nutrition and physical activity.

Greater Chicago Food Depository
The Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) is a nonprofit distribution and training center that provides food for hungry people while striving to end hunger in Chicagoland communities. BCBSIL supports GCFD’s Healthy Kids Markets Initiative, a program that ensures that children in Chicago Public Schools have consistent access to nutritious fruits and vegetables in the school environment. These markets involve collaboration between school staff, community volunteers, and families. In addition to healthy food, families are provided information about how to prepare nutritious and tasty meals.

Northern Illinois Food Bank
Northern Illinois Food Bank (NIFB) is a nonprofit that engages the community in a commitment to feed its hungry neighbors across 13 counties. NIFB provides food at food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and youth and senior feeding programs, which serve more than 60,000 people each week. In addition to healthy food distribution, BCBSIL is proud to support NIFB’s Nutrition Education Initiative, which is comprised of videos and print-ready materials to educate families on nutrition and work with partners to ensure widespread education on the importance of healthy eating for food-insecure children and their families across its service area.