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Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Launches the No One Runs on Empty Awareness Campaign with support from the Anthem Foundation

INDIANAPOLIS – Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana is on the fast track to accelerate awareness of food insecurity throughout Central Indiana with its new No One Runs on Empty initiative. The campaign is funded by a $1 million matching grant from the Anthem Foundation and backed by a partnership with Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport and NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Colton Herta. For the upcoming GMR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500, Herta will drive the No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda, which will display the Gleaners logo, highlight the awareness strategy, and drive the community to donate at gleaners.org.

John Elliott, Gleaners President/CEO noted that food insecurity affects many aspects of life, even for those who may not face the issue themselves. “Food insecurity is a higher indicator than income for the prevalence of the top 10 chronic diseases and conditions facing Americans today,” he said. “But it doesn’t stop there. A food insecure child can have attendance issues and learning difficulties. A hungry adult may have productivity and attendance issues at work. Hunger can lead to crime, job loss, increased health costs, homelessness, and more. We can positively impact both hunger and health outcomes by investing in the healthiest, most nutritious variety of food possible, and combining our efforts with health system providers.”

Elliott noted that COVID-19 and the racial equity and justice movements remind us that people of color are affected disproportionately by hunger, health, housing, education and employment crises. “We’ve been challenged by the pandemic to take a clear look at our organization both as a nonprofit hunger relief organization, as an employer, and as an amplifier of the voices of disproportionately impacted communities,” he said.

There were more than 1 million Hoosiers who are food insecure, with an unacceptable 150 million meal per year gap prior to COVID-19. We all know that number is dramatically higher now as a result of the pandemic. We also know that minority and rural populations are suffering disproportionately and will endure a much longer recovery. Children and senior citizens represent nearly half of those who are food insecure. Based on data from Feeding America, the current food insecurity rate in Indiana is 20%, up from 13.3%

No One Runs on Empty is a call to action to educate and engage Hoosiers by raising awareness of the faces of hunger – including those who are newly in need. Since mid-March, Gleaners has been distributing nearly 1.5 million meals each week. The awareness campaign is made possible through a generous gift from the Anthem Foundation.  

For Anthem, the need to take action is vital to help its communities lead healthier lives. Today, lack of food is one the most pervasive underlying issues affecting our nation’s well-being and keeping millions of Americans from achieving their best health. And, for Latinos and African Americans, who are most directly and disproportionately affected by chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, limited access to healthy food exacerbates this disparity.  

“Anthem’s commitment to our community runs deep and our efforts to improve social drivers of health are vital as we work to strengthen communities and address health disparities and inequities that are creating barriers in the quest to lead healthier lives,” said John Gallina, executive vice president and CFO at Anthem. “The No One Runs on Empty initiative is a natural fit for us. We’re pleased the Anthem Foundation can support Gleaners and help amplify their efforts to ensure our residents have access to healthy food.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only showed the dramatic connection between health and hunger, but it revealed inequities facing our most vulnerable populations. Those already facing challenges were the first ones to feel the impact of the pandemic and will experience that impact long-term. A Feeding America study on the impact of food insecurity on healthcare costs found that an additional $1.019 billion was spent on healthcare as a direct result of the impact of food insecurity on health. Anthem’s catalytic leadership role in social determinants of health was a natural fit for the No One Runs on Empty initiative. Their support will amplify the coordinated work already being done in this area by Anthem, Gleaners, and others.

When the No. 88 car roars through Speedway, it will do more than just sport the Gleaners logo on the car, it will demonstrate a significant partnership and commitment to increasing the awareness of hunger issues throughout the racing community and beyond. No child can run on empty and learn. No parent can run on empty and work hard to provide for their family. No doctor or teacher or race car driver can be their best when a basic need is not being met.  

“We are really happy to provide a platform for the launch of this campaign,” said Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti. “We were very proud to be able to join Gleaners recently at IMS for the Mega Fresh Mobile Pantry event and saw the importance of their work firsthand. This is a key time in our community, and we hope to join Gleaners in doing our part to help create greater awareness and make sure that NO ONE RUNS ON EMPTY.” 

Harding Racing owner Mike Harding added, “We’ve done a lot of great work with Gleaners over the years, and I’m especially proud to now bring them into our racing family. I can’t think of a better way to continue our relationship with them than supporting the goals of the NO ONE RUNS ON EMPTY campaign.” 

Gleaners will use this highly visible platform to educate the public in a bold way about nutrition and healthy eating to increase overall well-being and quality of life. Specifically, NO ONE RUNS ON EMPTY will support initiatives under the Nourish pillar of Gleaners’ strategic plan, adopted in February 2019. This includes increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein, and dairy we distribute with an ultimate goal of 80% being healthy foods to encourage.

The first gift toward the challenge has already been received from Bank of America. Andy Crask, Indianapolis Market President for Bank of America said, “Food is such a basic element of our lives and something that far too many of us take for granted while far too many of our neighbors are hungry. We have the means and resources to end food insecurity and it’s in everyone’s best interest to make that happen. My Bank of America teammates and I are pleased to join other Indianapolis corporate partners in working with Gleaners to ensure that ‘No One Runs on Empty.’” Bank of America’s $250,000 gift toward the No One Runs on Empty awareness campaign is in addition to $100,000 already received from the bank earlier this year for COVID-19 relief. 

Watch for the full initiative to unfold beginning in mid-August, leading into the Indianapolis 500 and continuing through the coming year. To learn more, visit gleaners.org/noonerunsonempty.