ANDOVER, MASS. — UniCare, in partnership with its philanthropic arm, the UniCare Foundation, is on a mission to improve access to nutritious food for Massachusetts communities. In light of this commitment and Hunger Action Month this September, UniCare hosted several volunteer day activities and made donations across the Merrimack Valley focused on addressing food insecurity.
"Improving the health and lives of our members and their communities is at the core of UniCare's mission. Ensuring that individuals have access to nutritious food is critical to achieving better health and is at the heart of our commitment," said David Morales, general manager of UniCare. "UniCare associates are deeply committed to giving back to our communities, and it was an honor for us to be able to support two incredible organizations that are working tirelessly to end hunger in the Merrimack Valley."
This month, UniCare volunteers harvested and packaged more than 280 pounds of produce at the Giving Garden in North Andover. Produce grown in the garden is donated to local food pantries in the Greater Lawrence area. Associates also packaged and distributed bags of pantry staples, fresh produce, and frozen meat to approximately 250 families in the Haverhill area at Somebody Cares New England, which operates two food pantries and provides community dinners to elderly residents and those in need. Each organization received a $1,800 donation from the UniCare Foundation to assist with ongoing needs. In addition to the donation from the Foundation, UniCare associates held a virtual food drive to purchase $600 worth of grocery store gift cards for Somebody Cares.
Nearly 9 percent of Massachusetts households are food insecure, and Feeding America projects this number could rise to 13.7 percent this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. That's why, as part of UniCare's mission to improve lives and communities, UniCare and its Foundation have committed $85,000 to support emergency response efforts and address growing food insecurity in Massachusetts in the wake of the pandemic. UniCare has also taken actions such as partnering with the Greater Lowell Chamber of Commerce this spring to host a virtual food drive that raised enough funds to provide 30,450 meals for the Merrimack Valley Food Bank.
In partnership with the Lions Club International, this year's service campaign brings together thousands of associates of UniCare's parent company for service to their communities at more than 50 projects across the U.S., including three in Massachusetts, with a focus on combatting hunger. All projects follow state COVID-19 safety protocols. Overall, UniCare associates in Massachusetts have donated more than 380 hours of volunteer time to charitable causes so far this year.