School of Social Work addresses food insecurity, COVID
In a Halloween twist, the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Arlington will use a “trunk-or-treat” event to distribute more than 700 boxes of fresh vegetables, fruit, dairy items, meat and washable face masks to local families in need.
The food box distribution is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, in the School of Social Work’s parking lot. The event is free and open to the public.
“These are challenging times and we want to support the Arlington community,” school spokesman Antwan Williams said. “Along with advocating for social and economic justice, service to community is a traditional function of social work and part of our school’s mission.”
Additionally, social work students, staff, faculty and alumni will hand out up to 500 packages with five washable masks in each.
“We know, according to medical science and public health experts, that wearing a mask is critical to an individual’s personal safety,” Williams said. “We want children and families in our community to be as safe as possible.
“Replacing masks is expensive. Kids lose them. Parents have to buy them continuously. This is a way we can help to reduce costs for families.”
By Wednesday morning, more than 400 vehicles had registered to participate in the drive-through event. Organizers said they expect another 100 vehicles to register before it begins.
“This speaks to our communities’ needs,” said Valerie Hill, communications assistant. “Social workers are front-line workers who know the issues of food insecurity and advocate for policies to address food desert communities.”
According to the DFW Community Health Collaborative, Tarrant County had a food insecurity rate of 13.9% in 2018. Many area residents live in food desert communities where it is difficult to buy affordable or quality fresh food within one mile of their homes. This leads to families eating more unhealthy foods, resulting in higher rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes.
The food distribution effort is a collaboration between community partners St. John Church Unleashed in Grand Prairie, Mount Rose Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Worth, the Tarrant Area Food Bank, and Mission Arlington/Mission Metroplex.
-Written by Valerie Hill, School of Social Work