Families facing tough times may not have enough in the budget to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Yet, those are necessary for a healthy life.
A new partnership in Fort Worth helps families fighting hunger afford those fruits and veggies.
"What's really important to us is not just people have access to food, and we certainly know that hunger is an issue for people in our community. We want everyone to have access to food in general, but we really want to make sure everyone has access to affordable healthy produce as well," said Matt Dufrene, Vice President of the Blue Zones Project Fort Worth/North Texas Healthy Communities.
The latest news from around North Texas.
"We have seen a dramatic increase in those who are struggling to put food on the table, much less being able to afford healthy options like fresh fruits and vegetables," Dufrene said in a news release. "Elrod's is a family-owned business that saw this need and is partnering with us to improve the health of this community and make a difference in the lives of its customers."
The Double Up Food Bucks initiative is designed to address increased food insecurity by allowing shoppers eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to double their savings on fresh produce. SNAP participants can swipe their Lone Star Cards and receive 50% off SNAP-eligible fresh produce, up to $10 in savings per day, per customer.
"One thing we've said frequently during the midst of COVID is, it hasn't created food insecurity but it's definitely magnified it. And there are definitely more people suffering with food insecurity now than were before, but I think it's important to know that food insecurity throughout our community has existed for a long time for a lot of different reasons. There's a lot of reasons people may be food insecure. It may be from a geographic accessibility standpoint but also affordability is really important," Dufrene told NBC 5. "So from a Blue Zones Project perspective, we really want to emphasize that people eat more fruits and vegetables but we know affordability and accessibility are sometimes barriers to that. So part of our response is making sure we eliminate some of those barriers and making it more affordable for families to eat healthy."
Access to fresh produce can drastically improve the overall health of a community. Incorporating more plant-based foods into meals can reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, studies have shown that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients - like beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E - that can boost immune function, which is especially important in light of the COVID pandemic.
The Double Up Food Bucks program will be expanded later this year to Foodland Markets at 1212 S. Ayers Ave., and available at Foodland Markets at 3320 Mansfield Highway in early 2021.
"The health of a community depends on all of its members, especially the business community," Dufrene said. "The need is great, and Blue Zones Project Fort Worth is always interested in meeting with potential partners to make healthy choices more available and affordable."
Blue Zones Project® Fort Worth is a community-led well-being improvement initiative that focuses on changing the environment around us to make healthy choices easier. Blue Zones Project aims to help people in Fort Worth live longer, happier lives and foster simple changes linked to better well-being. Blue Zones Project Fort Worth is under the umbrella of North Texas Healthy Communities, a nonprofit outreach arm of Texas Health Resources that facilitate community well-being improvement initiatives.