As many organizations have done during the COVID-19 crisis, Blue Zones Project has pivoted from its more traditional work to projects that align with immediate and emerging needs in the community.
Blue Zones Project, now under the umbrella of Texas Health Resources’ North Texas Healthy Communities, is a community-led well-being improvement initiative based on creating permanent and semi-permanent changes to man-made surroundings that impact lifestyle and culture. Since March, however, Blue Zones Project has been focused on meeting the pressing food and health concerns of Fort Worth residents.
Vice President Matt Dufrene outlined some of the ways the organization has adjusted in recent weeks:
Engagement efforts have gone virtual, and staff members are deploying new online tools and resources.
The organization has made extensive use of social media to support community and partner needs. Topics include family support resources, engagement for children, downshifting and mental health activities (such as its 10@10 segments), and information about community resources, with an emphasis on food and other emergency needs.
Blue Zones Project has implemented extensive emergency support for broad community food insecurity efforts. This includes immediately shifting resources from programming to responding to community needs.
The organization has provided volunteer, in-kind and financial support, primarily focused on food insecurity. Blue Zones Project has provided financial support for 2,000 meals for 1,200 families affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club; expedited purchase of a commercial refrigerator purchase for LVTRise to support emergency food distribution; provides ongoing assistance with volunteer food delivery; and continues to support two Healthy School Pantries. Additional support has been committed to mobilize grocery bag distribution in targeted ZIP codes, providing 3,600 bags over the next four weeks.
“Blue Zones Project now has over 350 partner organizations across Fort Worth, and tens of thousands of individuals that we regularly engage with,” Dufrene said. “We know that many of these organizations, families and individuals are facing increased struggles as a result of COVID-19. We want to continue to support our diverse community from a health and wellness perspective while being especially responsive to acute food access needs.”