A grant opportunity to advance “healthy food equity” from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation automatically disqualifies otherwise eligible organizations if the CEO is white.
The grant awards up to ten organizations $300,000 over the course of three years as “part of an overall commitment to increase equity access to healthy food.”
Eligibility is determined entirely by the racial makeup of the company.
“We have received questions about eligibility from organizations that have a majority people of color staff, and staff leadership, and white CEO,” a Foundation representative said in a February 2 webinar about the grant. “So given the spirit of this opportunity Sheila and I shared earlier, these organizations are not eligible for this particular opportunity.”
“So, this opportunity is specifically designed to support community rooted organizations that are led by, serving, and accountable to American Indian, black, Latino, other people of color, and members of immigrant communities to increase their ability to engage in advocacy, to address the root causes of inequitable access to healthy food,” the webinar made clear.
The representative made a point out of reiterating, “These grant funds must be used to increase your organization’s ability to engage specifically in advocacy.”
The Foundation’s “Advancing Healthy Food Equity” webpage lists the following three criteria:
- The executive director or CEO is American Indian, Black, Latino, other Person of Color, or from an immigrant community.
- The community served is primarily American Indian, Black, Latino, other People of Color, or members of immigrant communities as demonstrated by the demographics of those directly impacted by an organization’s programming.
- The staff and board (or coalition leadership) reflect the community served.
The justification for such stringent racial standards is that “race plays a significant role in the inequities we see in our communities, and therefore it must also have a significant place in our organization’s strategies to increase equitable access to healthy food.”
“If ever there was a bad idea, the notion that we should start to separate our country along racial lines is amongst the worst,” Do No Harm chair Dr. Stanley Goldfarb said of the initiative. “The plan by the North Carolina Blue Cross Blue Shield company takes divisiveness to a new level.”
“Even having a leader of an organization who is white is enough to prevent the entity, which apparently serves minority communities, from participating in a grant program,” he continued, asking, “Do Americans really want this sort of apartheid?”
Watch the full webinar here: