“You feel helpless,” says Kim Martin, Director of Claims for The Doctors Company, describing how she—and many others—felt at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, watching the news about how people were losing their jobs and struggling for food. “It’s one of those things where you’re not sure what the right thing to do is.” After reflection, with the pandemic blocking her usual volunteer activities, Martin decided to “really ratchet up” her donations to her local food bank, providing “very direct aid to put food on people’s tables.” In combination with matching funds from The Doctors Company, by February 2021, the Greater Lansing Food Bank was alerting Martin that she had provided 15,000 meals so far.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, TDC Group, which includes The Doctors Company, Healthcare Risk Advisors, TDC Specialty Underwriters, and Medical Advantage, and its employees stepped up to address food insecurity, which is among the social determinants of health. Approximately one-quarter of employee-donated funds matched by The Doctors Company’s Gift Matching Program in 2020 went to organizations addressing food insecurity.
For example, in Northern California’s Contra Costa County, White Pony Express rescues an average of 14,000-plus pounds of fresh food every day from local grocers, retailers, farmers markets, restaurants, and wholesalers. It is then sorted and delivered to dozens of organizations serving those in need. Devin O’Brien, Deputy General Counsel, Vice President for The Doctors Company, became a regular volunteer shortly after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They were hard-hit,” he says, because much of their pre-pandemic volunteer force was older, and when the pandemic hit, “They hunkered down.” O’Brien stepped in, and he’s been working for White Pony Express on Sunday afternoons ever since. O’Brien joins other volunteers to get donated food on pallets, get it refrigerated, and get it ready to ship to clients.
Martin and O’Brien both speak to the importance of the matching program from The Doctors Company in doubling the impact of their donations and their hours. Their words are echoed by Chelsea Flohr-Heed, Human Resources Manager at Medical Advantage, part of TDC Group, who organized a donation drive to the Feeding America network of food banks during the 2020 holiday season.
Flohr-Heed says that in 2020, with most employees working from home, “We were looking for a donation drive that would be more geographically accessible, so we opted for an online monetary drive.” This was appropriate as the company’s geographical footprint has expanded—the Michigan-based company’s employees now span the coasts.
Flohr-Heed says that for employees, watching their donations climb through benchmark after benchmark provided some much-needed joy during a difficult time. The drive ran for four weeks and yielded their highest-ever donation result.
In addition to gift matching, The Doctors Company’s corporate charitable program provided additional contributions directly to organizations addressing food insecurity. In all, more than 80 organizations benefitted.
“I never think of this as a donation,” says Kim Martin. “This is what I owe as a human being to people who didn’t have the fortunate situation I did.”