Millions of dollars worth of grant money have been awarded to organizations across North Texas to address crucial needs in their communities.
The grants provided by Texas Health Resources aim to address issues such as food insecurity, assistance with job training, and behavioral health. The United Way of Tarrant County’s Area Agency on Aging received a $525,000 grant for the new initiative ‘Project Empower.’
Leah King, President and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County, said the initiative will expand current work in the 76010, 76011 and 76082 ZIP-codes to address underlying issues of health disparities in people over the age of 18.
“Unfortunately, these neighborhoods in some of these targeted neighborhoods have been underserved for far too long,” King said. “Our research shows well prior to COVID-19, back in 2018 and 2019 when we completed our most recent research of these particular areas, they were already struggling not just with access to healthy food but access to healthcare, access to transportation either to get to or from a doctor’s appointment or to work.”
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Alicia Dodge has lived off Abrams Street for 26 years. It’s a great neighborhood but it could use improvements with better access to healthy food, Dodge said.
“We got Family Dollar but of course, that’s just stuff you make in five minutes…but grocery stores, the closest Kroger we have is on Arkansas. It’s many miles,” she said. “I have a vehicle, but it’s harder for senior citizens because I’m 70 and most of them are my age here… the first generation. So, it’s very, very hard. Not everyone has a car or knows how to drive or can drive, because of their physical health.”
Hunter Brown lives across the street from Dodge and like her, he said he would like to see better options nearby for fresh food and groceries.
“There’s an ethnic grocery store up the street. You can get emergency things, you know… bleach or wasp spray or something, but I can’t do my normal grocery shopping there," Brown said.
King said better access to healthy food is one of the areas they are hoping to address with the grant money and initiative.
“We have one partner that has really creative ideas. 'Gardens on the Go' and urban farms, so really to bring that ag[riculture] kind of lifestyle into an urban setting,” she said. “That’s helping not just young people understand how to grow their own food, the benefits of it, but ultimate benefit is that the community gets to utilize that and consume it.”
Linda Fulmer, executive director of Healthy Tarrant County Collaboration, said ‘Gardens on the Go’ has proven to be successful in other North Texas communities. The concept is to buy fresh produce at wholesale price, then sell the bagged products at $5 each.
They currently partner with two churches in Fort Worth for the bagged produce sales.
“I also do a price comparison for what it would cost to buy the same bag of food at Walmart and we’re generally finding that the food at Walmart, which is generally considered to be well-priced, would cost $10 to $13. That’s the power of the wholesale discount,” she explained.
Other community partners involved with Project Empower are the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Tarrant County, North Central Texas Council of Governments, My Health My Resources, Meals On Wheels Inc. of Tarrant County, Tarrant Area Food Bank, and Recovery Resource Center.
The initiative runs through Dec. 31, 2022.