The Student News Site of University of Texas at Arlington (Department of Communication)

Lone Star Sentinel

The Student News Site of University of Texas at Arlington (Department of Communication)

Lone Star Sentinel

The Student News Site of University of Texas at Arlington (Department of Communication)

Lone Star Sentinel

Tarrant nonprofits fight food insecurity

Arlington’s food insecurity rate tops national average
The+Tarrant+Area+Food+Bank+recently+launched+the+Red+Bus+program+to+bring+essential+food+assistance+directly+to+underserved+neighborhoods%2C+including+those+in+Arlington.
Staff Photo
The Tarrant Area Food Bank recently launched the Red Bus program to bring essential food assistance directly to underserved neighborhoods, including those in Arlington.

ARLINGTON, Texas—Food insecurity is a topic often overlooked by Arlington citizens, despite the city possessing an 18.1% food insecurity rate—2.7% above the national average.

Tarrant County residents have launched efforts to reduce the insecurity rate, with organizations like Tarrant Area Food Bank helping more people by the day. Food insecurity will always remain an issue, but the support these charities provide is a welcome lifeline to residents in need.

While food pantries typically serve as distribution centers for pre-packaged food, food banks like TAFB engage in procuring food from grocery partners such as Walmart, HCV, Kroger and others. The goods are then distributed to a vast network of partner agencies, totaling 500 across TAFB’s 13-county service area.

The Tarrant Area Food Bank warehouse in Fort Worth, Texas.

Michael Polydoroff, TAFB media contact, said the help the food bank provides Arlington has been a long time coming. TAFB was founded in 1982 by a Texas Christian University graduate who was tired of food being wasted and thrown out.

“Hunger was just a hot topic and the folks in that era wanted to fight for something,” Polydoroff said. “So many food banks started in 1982, most of them even.”

Emphasizing TAFB’s humble beginnings, he said that now in its 42nd year, the organization has grown to support 115 employees and three buildings in Fort Worth.

The Red Bus program, one of the initiatives the bank recently started, is a mobile resource that delivers essential food assistance directly to underserved neighborhoods, fostering community engagement and empowerment.

Michael Polydoroff, Tarrant Area Food Bank media contact, said the Red Bus program grew from the realization “that a lot of the Metroplex doesn’t necessarily have the resources to come to us.”

“Anyone can sign up for the Red Bus,” Polydoroff said. “We realized that a lot of the Metroplex doesn’t necessarily have the resources to come to us, so we thought we should come to them.”

Beyond addressing immediate hunger needs, TAFB is committed to “shortening the line” through educational programs, he said. These initiatives include youth programs teaching cooking skills and healthy food choices, setting up community gardens to promote self-sustainability and partnering with healthcare providers to address nutritional needs.

Additionally, TAFB assists individuals in qualifying for SNAP benefits, offering a holistic approach to combating food insecurity.

Food insecurity resources often extend to universities, with the University of Texas at Arlington’s Maverick Pantry being a good example.

Kalya Ramos, Maverick Pantry emergency assistance coordinator, said having these resources available for college students is important to combat food insecurity across Arlington.

Ramos said UTA students, faculty and staff are allowed to shop free in the Pantry, offering food and other essential items.

“It’s a right everyone in the university should have,” she said. “We do not want to limit anyone.”

The pantry also partners with Mission Arlington, which handles any excess donations the pantry receives.

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