Starting on July 1, 2020, the DET Initiative consists of four key focus areas:
Agency Development and Capacity Building: Food insecurity is a major public health problem. Family members in food insecure households are more likely to report poorer health and have higher risks for chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension and diabetes. Together, the foundation and food bank want to eliminate these barriers to health by making significant investments in ETFB’s partner network infrastructure. Capital investments for partner food pantries may include land acquisition, new equipment such as forklifts, pallet jacks, and refrigerators, additional shelving and technology upgrades such as new computers.
Increased Fresh Produce Distribution: For low-income East Texans, lack of nutritious food options is a barrier to health and development. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of stroke, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 Diabetes, and other diet-related health problems. ETFB’s Fresh Produce Program helps meet this need by providing fruits and vegetables throughout East Texas. In 2019, the food bank distributed more than 8.5 million pounds of produce. Through this initiative, the goal is to ensure fresh produce access to 100% of ETFB’s partner food pantry network.
Social Benefits Application Assistance: In addition to distributing food to East Texans in need, ETFB connects clients with available benefits, including SNAP, Medicaid, TANF and others. The Benefits Assistance Program is an important strategy for achieving overall meal goals. The cost per meal per person reduces dramatically with SNAP application assistance. However, not enough counties are offering this service. Only one of 56 partner food pantries in the 11 county focus area for this initiative currently offers benefits application assistance. With funding from this grant, ETFB will bring their benefits application assistance process to more rural residents in the foundation’s service area.
Development of Deep East Texas Resource Center: Lufkin is the most densely populated area within Angelina County, and is home to the region’s largest ETFB partner food pantry. However, resources are limited for low-income families in the Lufkin and the surrounding area. Through this partnership, ETFB will have the resources to develop a new multi-service branch – the Deep East Texas Resource Center at 105 Lofton Street. This new center will expand and increase the accessibility of food assistance and wrap-around services to community members in need. Some services that will be offered include a Healthy Pantry Program, Fresh Produce Distribution, and SNAP Application Assistance.