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iHeartMedia and Anthem Blue Cross partner with Common Threads to launch Food as Medicine classes at three LAUSD schools

October 18, 2022

On the heels of the White House Conference on Hunger Nutrition, and Health, iHeartIMPACT and Anthem Blue Cross are continuing their multi-year partnership to combat food insecurity and improve health in marginalized communities by partnering with non-profit Common Threads to provide hands-on culinary programming focused on food as medicine in under-resourced schools in Los Angeles.  
 
To support their ongoing commitment to the Los Angeles community, iHeartMedia, Anthem Blue Cross, and Common Threads will launch culturally responsive hands-on food as medicine programs in three LAUSD schools including Manual Arts High School, Baldwin Hills Elementary, and Coliseum Street Elementary to ensure students and families not only have access to nutritious food but also build the skills to prepare healthy meals that can help combat obesity and food-related chronic conditions or diseases. To mark the occasion, the partners hosted a produce distribution event with Chicas Verdes and Food Forward providing 250 families with bags of groceries of fresh produce. Joined by Los Angeles Sparks, students were able to participate in a live cooking demonstration from Common Thread instructors and Anthem Blue Cross volunteers on how to create a healthy meal from the food provided.
 
“Last year, iHeartMedia and Anthem Blue Cross helped fully renovate and expand the student-run garden program at Manual Arts High School, providing students with an opportunity to learn how to grow fresh produce. Now, we are doubling down on our ongoing commitment to combat food insecurity in our communities across Los Angeles by adding nutrition education, focused on food as medicine, to our program,” said Kevin LeGrett, President of iHeartMedia Sports. “It’s not enough to just distribute nutritious food, we want to make sure students and their families are equipped with the skills to make healthy meals and empowered to make informed food decisions that ultimately can improve their physical and mental health outcomes.”
 
One of every five deaths across the globe is attributable to a suboptimal diet. Chronic diseases and conditions such as obesity, heart disease, hypertension, high blood pressure, and diabetes are key drivers of total U.S. healthcare costs. However, people with diets rich in vegetables and fruit have a significantly lower risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Research also suggests that deficiencies in certain nutrients may contribute to or exacerbate conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Addressing the growing prevalence of diet-related diseases in the United States depends on preventative efforts at the individual, community, and public health levels.
 
"We are thrilled to continue working with our community partners to address health-related social needs and promote health equity through access to nutritious foods here in Los Angeles,” said Dr. David Pryor, Regional Vice President and Medical Director at Anthem Blue Cross. “We know that lowering barriers and making it easier for individuals to access everyday items, like nutritious food, are some of the best ways to help people live healthier. We are doing that here today by helping build hands-on nutrition knowledge for students and families, which will help open paths towards health equity for future generations."
 
Students with a healthy balanced diet are more likely to have stronger immune systems, lower risk of diabetes and heart disease, and live longer. A healthy diet is crucial for optimal learning because it can boost brain function and improve mood. The new partnership with Common Threads includes year-round hands-on nutrition education curriculum for students and their families that rolls out in late October. Elements of the curriculum include focusing on affordable and healthy ingredients, embedding culturally relevant content and teaching practices, increasing vegetable and fruit intake, emphasizing whole grains and lean protein, and reducing sugar intake and ultimately increasing knowledge and skill for cooking at home to utilize healthy foods that have been demonstrated to improve physical and mental health outcomes.
 
“Food is an essential part of our lives and the nutrition we need to thrive comes from good food choices. Providing hands-on training as part of the class curriculum is one of the most powerful and effective ways to make an impact early in life which can translate to improved physical and mental health outcomes,” said Common Threads Executive Director Linda Novick O’Keefe. “Often one minor adjustment to a traditional recipe can take a meal high in fat with empty calories to a deliciously nutritious meal that will fuel and nourish your body. Our mission is to teach children and their families easy and affordable ways to shop for and prepare their favorite meals, encouraging behavioral changes that last a lifetime.”
 
About iHeartIMPACT & Anthem Blue Cross Partnership
iHeartIMPACT is a division of iHeartMedia that focuses on aligning brands with nonprofit organizations. Anthem Blue Cross and its affiliated companies are working with iHeartIMPACT to support a series of nutrition education programs in a total of six schools across Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and Indianapolis. This partnership with national health and wellness organization, Common Threads, is an extension of the companies' multi-year commitment to addressing food insecurity and whole-health for communities across the country.
 
About Common Threads
Common Threads is a national nonprofit that provides children and families with cooking and nutrition education, striving to equip communities with the necessary information to make affordable, nutritious, and appealing food choices wherever they live, work, learn, and play. By December 31,2029 they committed to distributing 1,447,000 nutritious meals and snacks, and 1,228,500 hours of nutrition education. They aim to tackle the critical issues of limited access to healthy foods and nutrition-related health disparities in communities by reaching over 260,000 participants in low-income households across the United States, to offer culturally relevant nutrition education and hands-on cooking skills at community centers including schools, community organizations, and healthcare providers.
 
For more information about Common Threads visit commonthreads.org.
 
Media Contact:
Michael Bowman
Michael.Bowman@anthem.com
Ph: (916) 584-6043