Univera makes donations to local food banks

Univera Healthcare President Art Wingerter with $100,000 check to support WNY food banks.


Univera Healthcare and its Rochester-based parent health plan are providing $600,000 in financial support to food banks and food pantries across upstate New York as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The ability to earn a paycheck and feed a family are at risk for many people because of the coronavirus and its impact on the economy,” said Univera Healthcare President Art Wingerter. “A growing number of people in our community are facing food insecurity. Good health begins with good food. We saw an opportunity to help by supporting food banks and food pantries that are under pressure because of the increased need in our communities.”

The $600,000 donation from Univera and its parent will support food banks and food pantries across the nonprofit health insurer’s 39 county upstate New York service area.

In Western New York, that includes $100,000 to support six organizations in their efforts to provide food for people in need. Those receiving funds:

• FeedMore Foundation (via WNY COVID Crisis Fund) – $50,000 for Niagara, Erie, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties

• African Heritage Food Co-Op — $10,000 serving Niagara and Erie counties

• Gerard Place — $10,000, Erie County

• St. Luke's Mission — $10,000, Erie County

• Salvation Army of Jamestown — $10,000, Chautauqua County


“Hunger is a pervasive problem in Western New York, and the COVID-19 health crisis has only exacerbated the need for food assistance in our community,” said Tara A. Ellis, president and CEO of FeedMore WNY.

Food is the most basic of all needs. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, nearly 14 percent of New York households struggled with hunger, and at least 1 million New York children lived in households that did not have regular and consistent access to food, according to the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force. Over the last few months, as New York State’s unemployment rate increased, the ability for many families to regularly have food on the table was compromised. Local food banks and pantries are straining to meet the new demand.

“This donation will allow us to continue to feed hundreds of individuals who do not have access to healthy options,” said Alexander J. Wright, founder and manager of African Heritage Food Co-Op. 

This donation to food banks is part of a larger commitment by Univera and its parent health plan to spend more than $162 million to help its members, health care providers and communities respond to the pandemic.

“We are a nonprofit health insurer with 3,500 employees who call upstate New York home,” said Wingerter. “Improving the health and quality of life of our communities is what we’re all about.”

For the latest information on the health plan’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, members, providers and employers are encouraged to visit https://www.theuniveradifference.com/covid19 .

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