Tackling Food Insecurity in New Jersey

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An estimated one in ten New Jersey residents (more than 900,000) experienced food insecurity in 2018. They did not have an adequate, consistent supply of food and an estimated two thirds of these individuals qualified for some form of nutrition assistance. Over the past two years, we’ve seen New Jersey-based searches and unique users on our platform jump 137% and 165% respectively, reflecting the growing need for New Jersey residents to connect to social assistance (see chart below).

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Anthem, Inc., a provider of health insurance in the United States, has recently taken several important steps to address this need through its New Jersey health plan (Anthem NJ), in part by using special features of their Aunt Bertha platform.

Anthem NJ decided to target food insecurity based on data from their Aunt Bertha reporting, which showed that their members were searching for food-related needs in high numbers. Using this information, they added specific evidence-based questions to their initial member health screening tools and needs assessment. These questions are asked of all new members, and any current members who receive an updated screening or assessment. Members whose answers indicate food insecurity are then referred to programs using Anthem’s branded platform, powered by Aunt Bertha. Anthem care managers follow up with the member a few weeks later to confirm they were able to access local food assistance.

In addition to customizing the search experience for food-insecure members, Anthem NJ also provides tools for its staff to make their jobs easier. In collaboration with Aunt Bertha’s in-house Data Operations team, they added dozens of additional food pantry programs to their referral network, and then actively featured these programs on their branded site so that they show up at the top of relevant search results. They also created a shared favorites folder to enable quick access for Anthem associates to these preferred programs.

Anthem NJ is also taking their approach one step further — working with their philanthropic foundation to establish a micro-grant program focused on food insecurity. The program will consist of 4-5 smaller grants made to food pantries in New Jersey counties with the highest concentration of food insecure members.

To learn more about how you can use Aunt Bertha to address food insecurity in your community, schedule a demo with us!