Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Commits $1.8 Million to Advance Health Equity

June 13, 2013

Funding and technical assistance from the Center for Prevention will help 13 organizations fight health disparities related to tobacco use, limited access to healthy food and lack of physical activity.

EAGAN, MINN. (June 13, 2013) – While Minnesota is often recognized as one of the healthiest states in the nation, its low-income and minority populations suffer disproportionately from poorer health. In an effort to change this, the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota (Blue Cross) is committing up to $1.8 million dollars to support initiatives that reduce tobacco use, increase access to healthy food and make active living easier for communities that face the greatest disparities.

The 13 organizations that have been awarded Health Equity in Prevention funding and technical assistance include:

  • A.H. Zeppa Family Foundation (Duluth) will facilitate a neighborhood- driven effort to address food access issues in the Lincoln Park community of Duluth.
     
  • American Indian Cancer Foundation (Minneapolis) will introduce initiatives to reduce tobacco use in American Indian communities statewide.
     
  • Appetite for Change (Minneapolis) will work to improve the food system in North Minneapolis communities.
     
  • CLUES: Communidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (Twin Cities) will address disparities in tobacco use, healthy eating and active living among Latinos statewide and in a targeted area of southwest Minnesota.
     
  • Cycles for Change's Community Partners Bike Library Program (St. Paul) will help make physical activity, particularly bicycling, more accessible in diverse low-income communities in Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
     
  • Eagan Resource Center (Eagan and Lakeville) will focus on making healthy food more readily available to Dakota County residents who struggle with food insecurity.
     
  • Hennepin County will lead community engagement efforts to ensure health equity and active transportation are included in station-area planning along the Bottineau Transitway.
     
  • Hope Community Inc. (Minneapolis), along with the Land Stewardship Project, will expand access to healthy food in the Minneapolis neighborhoods surrounding Portland and Franklin Avenues.
     
  • NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center (Minneapolis) will advocate for smoke-free multi-unit housing policies and other tobacco reduction policies in North Minneapolis.
     
  • Pillsbury United Communities (Minneapolis) will address barriers to healthy eating and physical activity in Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood.
     
  • Rainbow Health Initiative (Minneapolis) will work statewide to reduce tobacco use and promote other healthy living initiatives within LGBTQ community.
     
  • Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota (St. Paul) will address high smoking rates in the Twin Cities’ Vietnamese, Lao and Karen community.
     
  • West Side Community Organization (St. Paul) will engage communities and tackle food insecurity issues in West St. Paul.

“Until Minnesota addresses health disparities, our state will continue to struggle with preventable disease, and its associated costs, at unnecessary levels,” said Janelle Waldock, director of the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross. “In order to change this, we must create communities where all residents not only have access to health care, but also to basic things – like walkable and bikeable streets, healthy food and smoke-free air – that reduce their likelihood of developing illnesses before they begin. The initiatives we’re supporting will play a vital role – but it’s only a start.”

Health Equity in Prevention funding recipients were selected through a competitive review process which included an initial application, followed by a formal RFP and site visits. Funding will be awarded over the next two to three years depending on the scope of each initiative. Information on these programs and their accomplishments will be updated periodically on prevenionminnesota.com.

About the Center for Prevention
The Center for Prevention ( preventionminnesota.com ExternalLink ) at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota delivers on Blue Cross’ long-term commitment to improve the health of all Minnesotans by tackling the leading root causes of preventable disease: tobacco use, lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating. Funded through proceeds from Blue Cross’ historic lawsuit against the tobacco industry, we collaborate with organizations statewide to help build vibrant communities where healthy choices are easier and more accessible.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota ( bluecrossmn.com ), with headquarters in the St. Paul suburb of Eagan, was chartered in 1933 as Minnesota’s first health plan and continues to carry out its charter mission today as a health company: to promote a wider, more economical and timely availability of health services for the people of Minnesota. Blue Cross is a not-for-profit, taxable organization. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, headquartered in Chicago.

For more information:
Stacy Housman, Communications
Center for Prevention
651-662-1415 (office)
651-283-9386 (cell)
stacy_m_housman@bluecrossmn.com