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Where food insecurity and mental health meet: 2 local organizations partner

Written by Mindia Whittier

In conjunction with Suicide Prevention Month, new national initiative tackles the relationship between food insecurity and mental health.

The Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) and The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation (TJEHF) recently announced the formation of a new, national education module that tackles the relationship between food insecurity and mental health.

Food insecurity is an issue that many families in the Tarrant area are facing. During the Delta Variant pandemic, TAFB saw an increase in the number of families who relied on food bank services for the first time. Research shows children who live with food insecurity experience prolonged trauma and are more prone to anxiety, depression, and suicide.

“We all know that food affects our physical health, but it can also affect our mental health,” said Julie Butner, President and CEO of Tarrant Area Food Bank.   “Food is fuel not just for your body, but for your brain too.  We are excited to initiate this new partnership with TJEHF, and through this program, we hope to bring attention to the negative effects food insecurity can have on mental well-being”

TAFB empowers communities to alleviate hunger by providing food, education and resources. Through its network of 350 partners, TAFB is able to provide access to over 1M nutritious meals weekly to children and adults facing hunger. This work resulted in access to 50 million nutritious meals in fiscal year 2020.

The partnership between TAFB and TJEHF kicked-off with a Special Mobile Market Distribution at Eastern Hills High School, at an event that served all Fort Worth ISD families and those interested in learning about mental health. TAFB hosted its The RED Bus, Resources Education Delivered, at the event. The mobile wellness vehicle provided free healthy recipe demos, as well as an onsite mobile food distribution and wellness education.  While this was a local rollout, the module will be included nationally in TJEHF ‘s Hope Squad curriculum.

Hope Squad is a school-based peer support program that empowers students to take action to prevent suicide through a partnership with their local mental health agency. The Jordan Elizabeth Harris Foundation is the agency that brings Hope Squad to Tarrant County.

THE JORDAN ELIZABETH HARRIS FOUNDATION (TJEHF) is a public charity and was created after the 2012 suicide of Jordan Harris, a remarkable young woman from North Richland Hills, Texas. TJEHF provides suicide prevention training and education in North Texas and funds research projects focusing on depression and mental illness.

About the author

Mindia Whittier