ARLINGTON, Texas — Tarleton State University students, faculty and Erath County community partners now have a new opportunity to address the needs of the county’s under served population. The project, known as Texans Reducing Food Insecurities and Depression (TFID), will identify and offer resources to citizens age 55 and over who face food insecurity and depression.
The $300,000 grant, awarded by Texas Health Resources’ Community Impact initiative, will help address the overall health and well-being of residents by supporting healthy food services and increasing access to mental health services.
“These funds from Texas Health will allow us to truly enhance mental health services by addressing the whole person: mind, body and soul,” said Julie Merriman, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services at Tarleton State University. “In addition, we will create a sustainable resource database to bridge a gap in service utilization and accurately identify residents in need.”
Texas Health Community Impact is a data-driven, outcome-focused approach that calls on grant recipients to collaborate across sectors to attack identified issues. This year, the program is awarding a total of $5.2 million to 12 collaborations across five regions in North Texas.
“This is our opportunity to play a role in upstream issues that impact health and well-being,” said Catherine Oliveros, DrPH, Texas Health’s vice president of Community Health Improvement. “Siloed efforts have limited success. If we are really going to transform health and health care, we must transform systems and communities.”
The initiative pinpoints specific ZIP codes with the best opportunities to effect change. In Erath County, the TFID project will focus on providing resources to individuals in 76401 and 76402.
“Texas Health Community Impact is one of Texas Health’s commitments to live our nonprofit, faith-based health system’s mission: To improve the health of the people in the communities we serve,” said the system’s CEO, Barclay Berdan. “It’s said that a person’s ZIP code has a greater impact on their health than their genetic code. That’s why we’re reaching out into the communities we serve and hoping to make a real difference in the health and well-being of people in these areas of North Texas.”
Leadership Councils found that mental health issues came up again and again during community focus groups and needs assessments.
They layered in data from community readiness surveys and performed windshield assessments, visiting the areas where individuals lacked access to healthy food and were isolated, which can lead to depression and physical problems. Living in food deserts (areas that lack healthy food options) can lead to chronic ailments, such as diabetes and heart disease, that damage the well-being of individuals and entire neighborhoods.
“Through the fabric of collaboration, the Texans Reducing Food Insecurity and Depression program will strengthen the social and spiritual support network in Erath County and bring hope and healing to hurting people,” said Rev. Kory Koch, vice chair of the Southern Leadership Council and representative for Erath County. “In the process, I believe this program will transform our whole community by providing a conduit of relationship-building for the recipients of services, students, caregivers, and congregations across our whole community.”
In addition to Tarleton State University, the TFID project is partnering with:
- Meals on Wheels of Erath County
- AgriLife of Erath County
- Faith Communities (First Baptist Church and Graham Street Church of Christ)
- Community Services (community gardens, Hope Clinic, and Grace Place)
- The Senior Center and senior living facilities (Stephenville Crossing and Bunker Hill)
- Cowboy Capital Mental Health Connection
- Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville
Programs through these partners will include the development of community gardens, cooking classes, in-home therapy, caregiver support workshops, mental health intervention and numerous referral resources.
“This multi-generational and multi-agency project is a marvelous opportunity for our students, residents and the future of our community,” Merriman said. “This will be a beautiful thing for Erath County, making a difference in hundreds of lives, and our desire is to keep the momentum going.”
About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is a faith-based, nonprofit health system that cares for more patients in North Texas than any other provider. With a service area that consists of 16 counties and more than 7 million people, the system is committed to providing quality, coordinated care through its Texas Health Physicians Group and 29 hospital locations under the banners of Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley. Texas Health access points and services, ranging from acute-care hospitals and trauma centers to outpatient facilities and home health and preventive services, provide the full continuum of care for all stages of life. The system has more than 4,100 licensed hospital beds, 6,400 physicians with active staff privileges and more than 26,000 employees. For more information about Texas Health, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit www.TexasHealth.org.