Addressing food access for Salt Lake County seniors with Green Urban Lunch Box

By Regence
June 04, 2019
After Garden Build_Group Picture_GULB 1

Regence believes that every partnership we cultivate, every dollar we pledge and every hour we volunteer makes the communities in which we live, work and play healthier. This post is part of a blog series that highlights how Regence is collaborating with community partners to positively impact the quality of life of people and families in our communities.

According to Feeding America, a nationwide network of food banks, nearly 5 million senior citizens currently face hunger in the United States. In Utah, almost 14% of adults aged 60 and older have faced the threat of hunger in the past 12 months, higher than the overall state rate of 12.5%. In our work to combat food insecurity within our communities, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah has partnered with Green Urban Lunch Box to provide fresh produce to seniors across Salt Lake County.

Green Urban Lunch Box works to maximize existing resources to address the hunger crisis. Through its Back-Farms program, volunteers build, cultivate and maintain organic gardens in senior citizens’ backyards at no cost to them. Each garden is paired with a volunteer apprentice who visits the space weekly to maintain and harvest the locally-grown produce. The harvest is then split between the homeowner, volunteer and farmers markets serving Salt Lake County seniors.

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Regence volunteers prepare a homeowner’s garden bed for planting.

Recently, 16 Regence volunteers prepared a half acre back-yard space to host a garden that Green Urban Lunch Box staff and volunteers will support throughout the growing season. The property had been previously maintained by a Salt Lake couple until caregiving took priority over garden upkeep.  

With the support of Green Urban Lunch Box, Regence volunteers spent an afternoon preparing the space for planting, which will now host a beautiful garden that ensures access to low-to-no cost produce for local homeowners, volunteer apprentices and seniors.

In addition to volunteerism, Regence has committed $34,000 this year to support the nonprofit’s programs that focus on maximizing existing resources to fight hunger and strengthen communities.

“We’re proud to support Green Urban Lunch Box and their commitment to making fresh produce affordable and accessible to our senior population,” said Kayla Norman with Regence’s corporate social responsibility team. “Through volunteer events, like this, we can support food access in our community, a key social determinant to health.”

Towards the end of the project, the homeowner thanked Regence volunteers with garden-grown fruit, saying that she had never felt such a strong feeling of gratitude before in her life.

For more information about Green Urban Lunch Box visit their website.