Aetna Better Health makes a large donation to local pantries


UNION CO. (WSIL) – Illinois Better Health Aetna and the Southern Illinois Pantry Network work together to help fight hunger and keep communities healthy.

Health isn’t just about how much you eat. It’s about what you eat and eating healthy requires proper storage.

“To be able to invest one hundred and thirty-eight thousand dollars in local pantries, which will then go to those in need to provide them with these healthy fruits and vegetables, this protein, what a great honor to be able to help those in need. Says Jeffrey Isbell, community development coordinator at Aetna Better Health.

Isbell says they are donating 51 refrigerators and freezers to more than 30 pantries across the region. “A lot of pantries have shelf-stable foods, so they’ll be high in sodium, high in sugars. Not necessarily the most nutritious, although they are filling.”

Extension educator Toni Kay Wright says after surveying local pantries, they found that one of their number one needs is to store healthy foods.

“If we can’t store healthy food, we can’t provide it in our community. Our first step is to increase the storage capacity so that we can start importing more fresh produce, more frozen foods, all these perishable foods. Meats, dairy products, dairy products, that’s where nutrition comes into our food, we just want to be able to offer it more easily, ”says Wright.

Brandi Sevenski, Union County Coordinator at the Shawnee Development Council, says COVID-19 has increased their pantry needs by 30%.

“Last month we saw 768 families here in the Union County office. With this commercialized refrigerator and freezer that we are receiving today, we will be able to accept more donations. The need is huge, especially here in southern Illinois People tend to forget, ”Sevenski adds.

Toni Kay Wright says that over the next ten days they will reach 15 counties in southern Illinois. The pantries are delighted with the donations.

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