BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation gives $3.25 million to state's food relief efforts affected by coronavirus crisis

Food awaits distribution to people in need at the food pantry established in East Ridge by East Ridge United Methodist Church along with another area church. Former ERUMC pastor Ken Sauer, now pastor at Red Bank United Methodist, is now partnering with other Red Bank churches to create the Red Bank Community Food Pantry. / Contributed photo by Ken Sauer

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With schools and many work sites closed and more people out of work due to the coronavirus, the Chattanooga Food Bank anticipates the number of area residents seeking food assistance will surge by 30%.

To continue to provide enough meals for its partner agencies in the 20-county Chattanooga region, the local food bank estimates it will cost an extra $100,000 a month, and possibly even more if food donations from local businesses are suspended.

Tennessee's biggest health insurer announced Wednesday it is coming to the aid of the local food bank with the largest single gift at one time ever for the agency. The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Chattanooga-based health insurer, is giving $3.25