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A house manager for the D.C. Housing Authority knocked on a door and handed boxed food to the resident inside.

“I don’t know what I would have eaten today if you hadn’t brought me this food,” was the reaction the manager remembered. “I will never forget that smile as I handed her the boxed food as long as I live.”

The food was distributed through CareFirst’s Community Food Relief Program.

It began in April 2020 to lessen the impact of the pandemic on underserved populations. CareFirst’s offices had closed so they decided to pivot their food service supplier, Aramark, to prepare meals for the program and keep those workers employed.

In partnership with the Maryland Food Bank’s Middle Mile Program and Food Rescue US in D.C., CareFirst and Aramark distributed more than 126,000 meals to community organizations such as City of Refuge, New Life Food Pantry, the D.C. Housing Authority, House of Ruth and others.

CareFirst also donated meals to frontline health care workers to demonstrate gratitude for their hard work and sacrifices during the pandemic. In Dec. 2021, CareFirst partnered with local catering companies and restaurants to provide nearly 3,000 meals to 24 skilled nursing facilities and long-term acute care facilities in its service area. In 2020, CareFirst distributed meals to all emergency room staff in every hospital in its service area.

Partnering with the Baltimore Ravens, CareFirst supported the Maryland Food Bank’s Pantry on the Go program and Heart Markets through the Fresh Food Mobile. The food bank has distributed millions of pounds of food a year through these programs.

“When we expand access to healthy food options, we can positively impact the health and wellbeing of our entire community,” said Stacia Cohen, executive vice president for health services at CareFirst.

CareFirst  serves 3.5 million members as the largest not-for-profit health plan in the mid-Atlantic region.

This is a winner profile from The Daily Record's Health Care Heroes awards. Information for this profile was sourced from the honoree's application for the award.