Employee Impact: Tackling hunger one person at a time

By Regence
June 07, 2018
President Chris Blanton Regence Washington Food Lifeline

This post is part of a series that highlights Regence’s unique Executive Board Placement program, which works to match company employees with nonprofit organizations looking to grow their board of directors. A key part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility approach to giving, the board placement program has become one of the most impactful ways Regence strengthens local communities and supports employees in their own volunteerism. Through the board placement program, and the corresponding funding that complements an employee’s board service, Regence supports employees to serve the greater good.

Chris: Food Lifeline rescues surplus food and provides meals to end hunger for thousands of people across Western Washington. The organization works to provide a long-term solution to hunger in a region where 12.9% households face food insecurity and more than 284,480 children do not have enough food to eat. For Chris Blanton, President, Consumer Health and Life Insurance at Regence BlueShield, helping combat hunger in the Seattle area felt like a great way to give back to his community.  

Why did you get involved with Food Lifeline? 

Chris: I’ve always been interested in tackling the issue of hunger in my community. I’ve been involved with Food Lifeline since 2010 and, before that, my family and I participated in many food drives. Giving back to the community is important to me and it’s been a great opportunity for my family to help as well.

What do you do as a board member?

Chris: A big part of addressing the problem of hunger in our community is understanding public policy. While I’ve always been happy to roll up my sleeves to stock shelves and drive trucks, I found I could make a greater impact in the state capital by speaking with our state representatives about the issues surrounding hunger.

I’ve also had the opportunity to visit other hunger relief organizations and attend seminars in San Antonio, Dallas, Nashville and Atlanta to learn more about how others manage the issue of hunger in their cities. What I have realized is there is no one specific way to tackle hunger and that other organizations around the country can offer great insight and creative solutions. For instance, the San Antonio Food Bank owns a parcel of land where they grow food as a way to supplement donations.

Have there been any projects that you’ve been able to help drive?

Chris: In a sense, Food Lifeline serves as a supplier to local food banks working directly with several grocery chains throughout Western Washington to recover food that would normally be thrown out. They also solicit support from corporate partners to distribute over 280 meal programs. For example, Starbucks donates a large amount of pre-packaged foods, providing people throughout our network with meals on the go. Recently, while working in the Pike Place food bank, I saw how people’s faces lit up with gratification when they realized they could get a meal that they could take with them.

What does it mean to you for Regence to provide this program?

Chris: The work I do for Food Lifeline is a direct reflection of Regence’s core values. The board placement program gives employees like me an amazing opportunity to live our company mission by having a positive impact in our community.

For more information about the Executive Board Placement program, please contact Alison Arella at (503) 414-7849 or via email at alison.arella@cambiahealth.com.