Putting food on the table has never been more challenging for some Texas families.

Because of the pandemic, 31% of Texans – or 8.9 million people – are unable to provide adequate food for one or more household members due to a lack of resources. This is more than double the amount impacted in 2019, according to a report by Feed America.

This past summer, Blue Zones Project launched the Double Up Food Bucks program, allowing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to double their money when buying fresh fruits and vegetables at the Cowtown Farmers Market in Fort Worth. The program has now expanded into two Fort Worth grocery stores, with a third coming on board soon.

And in Sanger, in a portion of Denton County where 39 percent of children are living in poverty, a $300,000 Texas Health Community Health Impact grant has helped Sanger Independent School District open a grocery store inside Linda Tutt High School where students can obtain food by earning points awarded for modeling positive behaviors. The program has been featured by numerous local, national and even international media outlets, including “Good Morning America," CNN and NBC News. More recently, The Drew Barrymore Show featured a segment about the program with Barrymore pledging to match a $10,000 donation being made by Califia Farms, a food and beverage company, to the school program.

The grant also helped First Refuge Ministries open a food pantry in Sanger, so residents no longer have to go to Denton for services. More than 18,500 adults, seniors and children were served through this new pantry in 2020.

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