Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's Caring Foundation has given a $1,200 grant to Altru Cancer Center's Filling the Gap program.

The Filling the Gap program provides transportation, lodging and food needs to cancer patients in need of financial assistance, as they often have to travel far from home in order to go to facilities able to provide the treatment they need.

Amber Blomberg, manager of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota’s Caring Foundation, said Altru’s Filling the Gap program aligns with their mission.

“It’s easing burdens for cancer patients who have to travel sometimes hundreds of miles several times a week for care,” Blomberg said. “Individuals receiving treatment for cancer, it presents many different challenges and concerns. It gets expensive with gas, and sometimes you have to spend the night somewhere, and then you get food when you’re on the road. It all adds up. We really love the opportunity to help them with their transportation efforts.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota’s Caring Foundation aims to collaborate with nonprofits and other organizations across North Dakota to eliminate health barriers. It was established in 1989 with the purpose of bettering the health and wellbeing of North Dakota residents and their communities.

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The foundation specifically is meant to collaborate with projects that impact social determinants and health equity. Blomberg said there are many different factors at play when it comes to access to healthy living options.

“There’s a lot that contributes to a person’s health, such as an affordable place to live, a safe neighborhood, healthy food, education opportunities, access to care, there’s just so much,” Blomberg said. “When the Altru foundation applied for a grant through the Caring Foundation to help assist with their cancer center’s Filling the Gap program, it really aligned well with our mission.”

This is the first year in many that the Caring Foundation has donated to the Filling the Gap program. Blomberg said she isn’t sure how long it’s been. Organizations have to apply to receive funds from the foundation.

“We have a grant process through our foundation,” Blomberg said. “Everyone has to apply every single year, so based on that and the priorities with our three-to-five-year strategic plan, we see what aligns best and grant funds based on that.”

Blomberg hopes Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and Altru can continue working together in the future to meet their common goals.

“We’re just so honored to be able to provide Altru Cancer Center and their foundation some extra support for their patients that are going through these hard times,” Blomberg said. “Anything we can do to help impact those social determinants of health and health equity to make sure people are living their healthiest lives is something we strive to do.”