The United Health Foundation has pledged $5 million to provide urgent support for people experiencing homelessness and food insecurity as they face unprecedented hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic. The national partnerships with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America is part of UnitedHealth Group’s (NYSE: UNH) previously announced $50 million initial commitment to fight COVID-19 and support impacted populations, including health care workers, seniors and hard-hit communities.
“People experiencing homelessness and food insecurity are among the most vulnerable populations and the COVID-19 emergency has only compounded the risks they face every day,” said Heather Cianfrocco, United Health Foundation board member and chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare Community & State. “By collaborating with proven, national partners like the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America, we will ensure critical aid is deployed quickly and effectively to those in urgent need.”
The partnerships include:
- $2.5 million to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council to support both urgent, immediate needs at local health care for homeless programs as well as longer-term needs to expand capacity;
- $1.5 million to the Feeding America network of member food banks for COVID-19 response needs, such as purchasing additional food to meet sudden increases in demand, supporting new distribution approaches and responding to a sudden decline in volunteers; and
- $1 million to Meals on Wheels America to support local programs addressing the immediate and ongoing needs of vulnerable seniors.
“The United Health Foundation’s generosity will further bolster our 30-year commitment to people experiencing homelessness and the professionals working at the nexus of health care and homelessness who serve them during this COVID-19 pandemic. Health care for the homeless programs and medical respite care programs advance our mission to eliminate homelessness by ensuring comprehensive health care and secure housing for everyone,” said Bobby Watts, chief executive officer, National Health Care for the Homeless Council.
"Food banks have reported a 40% increase in the number of people seeking their help. We anticipate the need for food will continue to rise as our neighbors face greater financial stress,” said Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, chief executive officer, Feeding America. “We are grateful to the United Health Foundation for their generous support of our work to feed more people during this crisis.”
“Meals on Wheels is uniquely positioned to reach at-risk older adults and is working tirelessly to adapt to the rapidly evolving situation, deliver nutritious meals safely and respond to an unprecedented increase in demand,” said Ellie Hollander, president and chief executive officer, Meals on Wheels America. “The United Health Foundation’s generous donation will help us to ensure this trusted network of community-based programs continues to deliver its vital lifeline during this national crisis.”
UnitedHealth Group, including UnitedHealthcare, Optum and the United Health Foundation, has a long history of addressing homelessness and food insecurity — key determinants of health among vulnerable populations.
UnitedHealth Group began its affordable housing initiative in 2011 in an effort to help remove social barriers and disparities. The company has invested more than $400 million to build 80 affordable-housing communities throughout 18 states across the country. As a result, more than 4,500 new homes have been created for individuals and families in need, including seniors, military veterans, people living with disabilities and those struggling with homelessness.
Additionally, large areas of focus for UnitedHealth Group employee charitable donations are to support better nutrition and the fight against food insecurity. In 2019, for example, 495 different food and nutrition organizations were supported by UnitedHealth Group employees, totaling more than $1 million. UnitedHealthcare also has a history of forming strategic grant partnerships that enable food banks to provide healthy, fresh food to underserved communities and has partnered with local community-based organizations to distribute more than 47 million meals since 2018.
About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.
About National Health Care for the Homeless Council
Grounded in human rights and social justice, the Council works on behalf of 300 health care for the homeless centers and 90 medical respite care programs to build an equitable, high-quality health care system through training, research and advocacy in the movement to end homelessness. For 30 years, the Council has been guided by the needs of people with lived expertise of homelessness and the professionals who serve them. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, the Council serves a nationwide community.
About Feeding America
Feeding America is the largest hunger-relief organization in the United States. Through a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, it provides meals to more than 40 million people each year. Feeding America also supports programs that prevent food waste and improve food security among the people it serves, educates the public about the problem of hunger and advocates for legislation that protects people from going hungry. Individuals, charities, businesses and government all have a role in ending hunger. Donate. Volunteer. Advocate. Educate. Together we can solve hunger. Visit www.feedingamerica.org, find it on Facebook or follow it on Twitter.
About Meals on Wheels America
Meals on Wheels America is the leadership organization supporting the more than 5,000 community-based programs across the country that are dedicated to addressing senior isolation and hunger. This network serves virtually every community in America and, along with more than two million staff and volunteers, delivers the nutritious meals, friendly visits and safety checks that enable America’s seniors to live nourished lives with independence and dignity. By providing funding, leadership, education, research and advocacy support, Meals on Wheels America empowers its local member programs to strengthen their communities, one senior at a time. For more information, or to find a Meals on Wheels provider near you, visit www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org.