The United Health Foundation has donated $500,000 to the Arizona Food Bank Network (AzFBN) to address food insecurity across Arizona.

The AzFBN is a private, nonprofit organization that serves all 15 Arizona counties. The Arizona grant adds to the United Health Foundation’s support for community partners in hard-hit states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington state.

The $500,000 donation to the AzFBN will be used to assure access to meals and adequate nutrition for Arizonans through the state’s network of nearly 1,000 food pantries and organizations, some of which have experienced a demand up to five times greater than usual due to COVID-19. Additionally, AzFBN will work with schools to ensure students and families are provided meals during the summer months.

“Many Arizonans are facing unprecedented hardships during the COVID-19 public health emergency and reliable access to food is paramount in keeping people healthy and safe,” said Joe Gaudio, chief executive officer, West Region, UnitedHealthcare Community & State. “Our support for the Arizona Food Bank Network has been long-standing and our recent investment will help address food insecurity across the state and complements efforts initiated by Governor Doug Ducey to provide aid for at-risk communities during the pandemic.”

“We know that Arizonans are struggling right now and will be facing a long recovery. We need to make sure there is help available when they need it,” said Angie Rodgers, president and chief executive officer, Arizona Food Bank Network. “Thanks to the United Health Foundation’s commitment to Arizona, we can support organizations that help feed hungry people across the state.”

UnitedHealth Group, including UnitedHealthcare, Optum and the United Health Foundation, has a long history of addressing food insecurity — a key determinant of health among vulnerable populations in Arizona and across the country. The United Health Foundation has recently invested more than $4 million through national partnerships with the Feeding America network of member food banks, Meals on Wheels America, and several state-based organizations as part of UnitedHealth Group’s more than $75 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities.