Sustaining Healthier Lifestyles
After six years of investments and support from Texas Health and the involvement of worksites, schools, restaurants, grocery stores, faith-based communities, and local organizations and associations, permanent lifestyle improvements now benefit more than 200,000 people every day in Fort Worth. Through healthier eating, increased activity and stronger social connections, the city is now the largest certified Blue Zones Community® in the country.
In 2019, Blue Zones Project work moved under the umbrella of North Texas Healthy Communities (NTHC), Texas Health's community outreach arm that focuses on delivering community benefit through well-being improvement initiatives. The NTHC team is working to sustain Blue Zones Project's momentum while expanding support into high-need schools, faith communities, worksites and neighborhoods identified by Texas Health's Community Health Needs Assessment. Targeting interventions to individuals most in need will help address healthcare inequities and close socioeconomic gaps.
Our next goal? Help Fort Worth become the healthiest metropolitan city in the nation. To achieve this, NTHC is working with project partners to develop and execute a strategic plan that will deepen our relationships and engagement with more than 350 participating organizations and almost 93,000 individuals.
Feeding Our Neighbors in Need
According to the Tarrant Area Food Bank, 22% of households in Tarrant County have no vehicle and live more than a mile from a grocery store.
When the pandemic hit, the Fort Worth Blue Zones Project, now a part of Texas Health’s North Texas Healthy Communities Department, immediately shifted its focus to increasing food access to those most in need. It teamed with local nonprofits, youth organizations, community centers and homeless service providers to provide food, nutritional information and emergency resources to underprivileged neighborhoods.
Together, they provided:
- More than 186,000 pounds of fresh produce.
- Volunteers and financial support to fill 4,800 grocery sacks with pantry items and fresh food. Meals were distributed by Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, area churches and other community organizations.
- Funding for essential hygiene supplies for 450 families and additional in-kind and financial support primarily focused on food insecurity.
- Fresh produce and healthy options to families by setting up two food pantries in a local middle and elementary school. Between August and December 2020, the pantries combined to serve 773 families with 3,209 pounds of fresh produce. Blue Zones Project also provided promotional support and coordinated volunteers for these events. Pantries in five additional locations are launching in spring 2021.
- Startup funding for the Double Up Food Bucks program at the Cowtown Farmers Market, 15 pop-up farmers markets and two area grocery stores, enabling Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to double their money when buying fresh fruits and vegetables. SNAP users have redeemed almost $6,000 in fresh produce through Double Up Food Bucks since it began.
- Fresh fruit to 14 area community centers for children who attended summer camps, impacting approximately 1,000 campers through a new Kids & Community Center Fruit Connection initiative.