Social Work Donates 1,200 Masks to Local Families to Address Spike in COVID infections School also helps hundreds of families with food box giveaway

Friday, Nov 20, 2020 Valerie Hill

By Valerie Fields Hill

School of Social Work

 

The UTA School of Social Work’s faculty, staff and students addressed two major concerns recently amidst a rising spike in COVID-19 infections: health and safety and food insecurity.

The School distributed 250 packages of masks – or 1,250 individual masks – and more than 500 bottles of hand sanitizer to families who live in Central Arlington during the School’s first drive-through Fall Trunk or Treat and Food Box Giveaway. The event was held at the Social Work Complex on Oct. 29.

Fall Trunk or Treat                    Fall Trunk or Treat

The masks are 100 percent cotton, washable facial masks. Each car that drove through the event was given five masks for their entire family members and two bottles of liquid, 75 percent alcohol hand sanitizer.

“We know, according to medical science, that wearing a mask is critical to individual’s personal safety,” said Antwan Williams, communications manager for the School of Social Work. “We wanted families who live near the university to be as safe as possible.”

Williams said many families are suffering job layoffs, cutbacks in work hours and other financial challenges that disallow the continual purchase of facial masks.

“Replacing masks is expensive. Kids lose them. Parents have to buy them continuously,” he said. “This is a way we can help to reduce families’ costs.”

UTA Social Workers and students also distributed more than 10,000 pounds of fresh apples, navel oranges, mangoes, tree-ripened pears; Borden milk, eggs, shredded cheddar cheese and real butter; and rice, white potatoes, breakfast sausages and other food items.

The food was loaded into the trunks of families’ vehicles after they drove through the children’s Trunk or Treat fun, contactless social event. The fall fun event was held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, in the School of Social Work’s parking lot at the intersection of Abram and Cooper streets. It was free and open to the public.

“These are trying times,” Williams said. “Social Workers are uniquely prepared to address community needs during these times.”

According to DFW Community Health Collaborative, Tarrant County had a food insecurity rate of 13.9 percent in 2018, the last year for which this data is available. By comparison, Denton County had an 11 percent rate while Somervell County had an almost 18 percent food insecurity rate.

The Collaborative researched and published its findings prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts have said food insecurity rates have escalated locally since the onset of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Tarrant County also is seeing escalating COVID-19 infections, county officials said.

To combat the spread, Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley declared a public health emergency in late August in Tarrant County.

On Thursday, Nov. 19, the Tarrant County COVID-19 community spread level was “Substantial,” according to the county public health department’s Covid-19 Web site.

Specifically, 14,875 Arlington residents had been diagnosed with the virus as of that date. The number represented the second largest number of infections in Tarrant County. Only the city of Fort Worth had more infections – 39,171 - as of that date.

To view photos and video from the Fall Trunk or Treat and Food Box Giveaway, click here:

https://www.uta.edu/academics/schools-colleges/social-work/news/photos-videos

The food distribution and personal safety items giveaway were a collaboration among community partners the Tarrant Area Food Bank, Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex, New Mount Rose Baptist Church, St. John Church Unleashed, the Salvation Army Family Life Center and Youth Education Town, Arlington Life Shelter and the UTA School of Social Work.