A Sunny Moment

Posted on Apr 3rd 2020 by Florida Blue

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Our community is at the heart of all we do. We know these uncertain times can be worrisome, but together we will rise above the adversity created by this devastating outbreak and walk away stronger than ever in our resolve to help people and communities achieve better health.

We’re gathering uplifting stories from the communities we serve and sharing them with you all, a reminder that so much good is out there and challenges such as this one brings us closer together in our humanity.

The Miami Marlins Are Helping to Feed Those in Need

The Miami Marlins Foundation today announced the launch of the Home Plate Meals Relief Fund with an initial investment of $100,000 to make a Marlins Impact in addressing urgent food security issues across the South Florida community due to COVID-19. Miami Marlins partner Florida Blue joined the Foundation’s efforts and contributed $50,000 to the Home Plate Meals Relief Fund, bringing the total to $150,000.

The Miami Marlins Foundation will begin to immediately invest the funds into the South Florida community, partnering with Feeding South Florida, to launch a weekly drive-thru food distribution throughout the month of April. As part of the food distributions, approximately 200,000 meals will be provided to local families at a select Miami-Dade County public school in Liberty City and Little Havana. Additional relief efforts sponsored by the Home Plate Meals Relief Fund will be scheduled throughout the coming weeks. 

“Due to the rapidly evolving situation at this time, we wanted to support a top priority in our local community by addressing food security and assist in providing the necessary proper nutrition,” said Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza, Executive Director of Miami Marlins Foundation. “We are thankful for a partner like Florida Blue for seeing the value in this program and joining our effort to contribute to the many families who experience this challenge on a regular basis and have been additionally impacted by COVID-19.”

“Individuals, families, children and seniors are facing tremendous and immediate economic, health and safety issues because of the COVID-19 public health crisis,” said Florida Blue market president Penny Shaffer. “Florida Blue is proud to support communities and efforts across the state during this pandemic, and to work with the Marlins Foundation to ensure our neighbors in need do not go hungry.”

Feeding Northeast Florida

Florida Blue and Feeding Northeast Florida have come up with an imaginative way to help the local economy. Together, here's how we're helping to serve the hungry, protect jobs and aid local farmers. 

Feeding Northeast Florida provides food to food pantries throughout the communities surrounding Jacksonville.

Nearly all their perishable food is normally donated to them from grocery stores and farmers. However, that donation has dried up in the past weeks which meant the food bank needed to quickly find new sources of food to avoid more people going hungry. 

At the same time, restaurants were no longer purchasing food from farmers and our food service provider, Flik, was being forced to lay off 40 employees from the Florida Blue campuses since most employees are working from home.

It was looking like a horrible situation.

Then, large quantities of produce donations started coming in from places like the canceled PLAYERS golf tournament and closed Disney parks. Darnell Smith, North Florida Market President, spoke with Susan King, President and CEO of Feeding Northeast Florida about their struggles to handle the donations of fresh produce and those of the local farmers.

“While we were talking, an epiphany hit and it was clear that we had a great opportunity here,” said Darnell.

Now, Feeding NE Florida brings ingredients each day to our Deerwood Campus Complex. Our food service employees develop a menu and utilize our kitchen space on campus to cook and package nearly 3,000 meals a day. Feeding Northeast Florida picks up the meals and delivers them to the neediest—particularly seniors.

The effects of COVID-19 have caused a domino effect that has knocked down the economy, but this story shows that there’s also a domino effect that helps stand it up again. And using our corporate value of imagination, we’re upholding our mission of helping people and communities achieve better health more than ever.

The YMCA is Helping Meet Critical Childcare Needs for Essential Workers

Florida Blue is joining generous YMCA members to help the YMCAs of the Tampa Bay meet a critical need in the Greater Tampa Bay area during these unprecedented times.

Florida Blue is providing a generous $100,000 gift to help the Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA, YMCA of the Suncoast and YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg offer all-day youth relief care for essential workers at 21 Y locations (listed below) across Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Citrus and Hernando counties. The gift is part of a $2 million investment Florida Blue is making to address urgent health and safety needs in communities across the state.

“The health and well-being of our communities is our top priority right now. We are grateful for the health care workers, emergency responders and other essential staff who are on the front lines combating COVID-19,” said David Pizzo, Florida Blue Market President, West Florida. “We commend the efforts of the YMCAs of Tampa Bay for collaborating on this regional effort to provide vital members of our community with an affordable, safe and supportive location for their children while they are fulfilling critical work to keep our communities healthy.”

“This gift, along with the generosity of our valued YMCA members choosing to donate their monthly membership fees to help the Y continue our charitable work, has enabled us to offer this program at a low weekly fee that equates to $10 a day,” says Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA President & CEO Matt Mitchell, representing one of three Y associations participating in the collaborative effort.

“As we use our Y facilities to serve essential workers who are playing important roles combating the coronavirus, we sincerely thank Florida Blue, and all our members who are staying with us to help support our charitable mission during this health crisis,” says Matt. “The Y continues to bear some heavy financial losses as we continue to provide this care during this challenging time. At this crucial moment, when our communities need us more than ever, we appreciate the continued support of our members and community partners.”

Starting Monday, March 30, for $50/week, qualified employees can register at the following links:

In Hillsborough & East Pasco counties: https://www.tampaymca.org/relief-care

In West Pasco, Pinellas, Hernando & Citrus counties: https://bit.ly/3daGnjB

In St. Petersburg: http://www.stpeteymca.org/childcare/youth-relief-care-for-essential-workers/

TENATIVE SCHEDULE:*

Dates: Mar. 30-Apr. 3, Apr. 6-10, Apr. 13-17, Apr. 20-24, Apr. 27-May 1, May 4-8

Time: 6:30/7am - 6pm

Cost: $50/week (No child is turned away due to inability to pay. Please inquire about financial aid.)

 *This is a very fluid situation and dates are subject to change.

**Limited enrollment per site

Helping Our Communities One Bag At A Time

A few weeks ago Rick Bennett from Florida Blue’s local presence team received word that Feeding Tampa Bay had an immediate need for shopping bags to help with food distribution. The bags are used to collect much needed meals and meal making staples for those in need. As you can imagine, they are seeing an increased need in individuals and families needing food due to loss of income. We went digging through our reserves from previous events, activations and giveaways to answer this call and as a result we were able to donate a variety of bags – from backpacks, to grocery bags to plastic bags. To date over 2,600 bags have been handed over to help get food to those in need.


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