UnitedHealthcare, Optum Turn Cafeteria Into Meal-Prep Base for Hartford Residents in Need

April 08, 2020
  • Partnership between UnitedHealth Group, Compass Group and city of Hartford is helping fill a surging need 

Hundreds of first responders, essential employees, senior citizens and individuals experiencing homelessness in the city of Hartford will soon have access to free, healthy meals, as UnitedHealthcare of New England and Optum — UnitedHealth Group’s companies with operations in Connecticut — reallocate their campus cafeteria staff to provide up to 11,200 meals each week, at least for the next seven weeks.

Leaders of UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of UnitedHealthcare and Optum, devised the plan to help Compass Group food service workers get back to work in recently closed office cafeterias in several U.S. cities including Minneapolis, Las Vegas, and Greensboro, N.C.  The company’s campus cafeteria in downtown Hartford will be among the locations offering hot and cold meals for those in need.

“Working together in important and unique ways is how our state and our communities are going to get through this crisis,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “Connecticut is fortunate to have these kinds of private partners stepping up and getting creative to contribute in these kinds of ways to help those in need.”

The effort comes as nonprofits report massive increases in the number of individuals needing help to access food. UnitedHealth Group has partnered with the city of Hartford to help address this important need to distribute meals and ensure residents are fed.

“We're incredibly grateful for UnitedHealth Group’s partnership with the Hartford community, keeping employees working while providing fresh, healthy meals to hundreds who need and deserve our support right now," said Mayor Luke Bronin. “The meals prepared by the UnitedHealth Group team will help keep isolated seniors and our homeless community healthy, and they'll also go to first responders who are putting public service first and staying away from home." 

Beginning Wednesday, April 8, breakfast and lunch will be prepared and delivered for hundreds of individuals across the city every day. The meals will be distributed to first responders and essential employees; individuals experiencing homelessness who have been temporarily moved to hotels; and senior citizens who normally received meals at Hartford’s senior centers.

“As this unprecedented public health crisis continues to evolve, it will become increasingly difficult for many Hartford residents to access healthy meals,” said Stephen Farrell, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of New England. “We are proud to contribute to addressing this challenge by reallocating our resources and space to help meet an important need in the community.”

Meals are being prepared by nine Compass Group employees who normally cook for, and serve, some of UnitedHealth Group’s more than 6,000 employees in Connecticut, many of whom are now working from home.

The healthy menu options change daily as directed by Compass Group’s chef and will include meals such as chicken parmesan, seasoned rice and steamed carrots, and boxed lunches that include an assortment of sandwiches, fresh fruit, chips and water.

UnitedHealth Group is covering the more than $500,000 in food costs and wages for the Compass Group employees in Hartford. This outreach builds on UnitedHealth Group’s recently announced $50 million initial commitment to support communities affected by COVID-19.

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 or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individualsemployers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with over 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and more than 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on Twitter.

About Optum

Optum is a leading information and technology-enabled health services business dedicated to helping make the health system work better for everyone. With more than 165,000 people worldwide, Optum delivers intelligent, integrated solutions that help to modernize the health system and improve overall population health. Optum is part of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH). For more information, visit

About Eurest USA

Eurest is a $1.75 billion food and vending organization serving the business and industry market with over 2,000 locations and more than 18,000 associates throughout the United States. Eurest serves more than 850,000 guests daily and is a sector of North Carolina-based Compass Group North America. Compass Group North America is the leading foodservice management and support services company with $18.6 billion USD in revenue in 2018. Compass Group North America is owned by Compass Group PLC based in the United Kingdom, operating in 45 countries with 600,000 associates worldwide. For more information, visit