TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The East Texas Food Bank announced on Wednesday that it is launching a new initiative to better help area families with food-related needs.
The ETFB is calling the program "Partners in Health." According to the non-profit, ETFB developed the program in collaboration with St. Paul Children's Medical Clinic and UT Health Northeast to address food insecurity, which is a major public health problem in East Texas.
In the case of Smith County, 1 in 4 kids don't know where their next meal will come from. That does not include older siblings or adult family members who likely face the same situation.
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The new initiative is built on the concept that healthy foods can start at the doctor's office. Patients at St. Paul Children's Medical Clinic will be given a food insecurity questionnaire, and if they meet certain health risks, they can enroll in the twelve-week program. Participants will pick up a box of fresh produce and shelf-stable foods from the clinic on a weekly basis.
Dr. Valerie Smith with St. Paul Children's Medical Clinic said, "One thing that the nutrition education staff at the food bank has worked on is making sure that there are recipes for any ingredients that might be new or unusual for families. Our hope is that they will then discover what their children like, discover healthier foods, and then be able to use their money to continue to buy those types of foods."
The ETFB reports family members in food-insecure households are more likely to report poorer health and depressive symptoms and have higher risks for chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension, and diabetes. Food insecurity also negatively affects children's health and development and increases risks for acute infection, chronic illness, hospitalization, and developmental and mental health problems.