Texas Health awards $599,962 grant to address depression and food Insecurity in Erath County.


Special to BTS NEWS

Texas Health Resources has awarded a $599,562 grant to help Erath County organizations address crucial needs in their communities, including depression and food insecurity. The grant will benefit the work of Erath County United Way, in close collaboration with Tarleton State University and other community partners.

Awarded by Texas Health Community Impact, the grant helps fund the initiative known as Erath County Community Bridges, which is aimed at decreasing levels of anxiety and depression, increasing food security, and enhancing resource navigation services for low-income citizens age 40 and over in Erath County.

“We’re excited to have this opportunity with the Texas Health Community Impact grant to help make measurable changes in the health and well-being of the people in our community,” said Lisa Scroggins, executive director of ECUW. “We’ll work with our partners to help our communities find and leverage the resources that can help them in critical areas like anxiety, depression and food insecurity.”

The program objectives for Erath County’s grant are two-fold among low-income individuals age 40 and over: decrease depression and anxiety as measured by standard assessments on patient mental health and general anxiety disorders; and increase food security by 10% as measured by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Security Questionnaire.

To do this, Erath County Community Bridges plans to create a Telehealth Institute through Tarleton State University; fund a navigator position to help coordinate the efforts of the collaborating organizations as they collectively help citizens; and enhance food pantries through healthier food options and offering financial literacy education to patrons.

Julie Merriman, Ph.D., associate dean of Tarleton’s College of Health Science and Human Services, said the Telehealth Institute will create a multidisciplinary clinic, bringing together counseling, public health, nursing, food sciences, social work and communication disorders.

“The Telehealth Institute will serve our community while training future healthcare workers in advanced technologies,” Merriman said.

Erath County Community Bridges is also partnering with H.O.P.E., Meals on Wheels of Erath County, area food pantries, Stephenville and Dublin independent school districts, TexasBank and Pecan Valley Mental Health Authority.

This spring, Texas Health awarded $5 million in grants to help organizations address crucial needs in their communities, many of them made more urgent by the stress COVID-19 has placed on North Texans.

The grants are made with input from leaders in communities around North Texas, including Erath County. They are targeted at priorities that were identified in the Texas Health Community Health Needs Assessment and confirmed with data from community readiness surveys and focus groups. The grants are a data-driven, outcome-focused approach to addressing social determinants of health upstream before they become serious problems.

Screening for anxiety, expanding community gardens to address food insecurity and assisting with job training are among the issues that some of the Texas Health Community Impact grants will address.

“These issues, such as food insecurity and social isolation, have been longstanding problems in these communities and have only become more critical because of the pandemic,” said Barclay Berdan, CEO of Texas Health. “Texas Health Community Impact is about reaching beyond the walls of our hospitals and improving the lives of people in the communities we serve.”