Dallas’ health nonprofits have a new tool in their fight to increase food access

Jacobson said he hopes the map will be updated annually or every other year to show where or if progress has been made.

“We really want to allow for the community to dig in, see what they learn and connect that to their own experience,” Jacobson said. “There’s really not another resource out there that shows you how things like corner stores and disease might interrelate with each other.”

Other issues discussed at the summit included possible policy changes at the federal level that could impact how many area families are eligible to enroll in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, long-term economic challenges for the city’s communities of color and how the Dallas area’s hospital systems are engaging communities around them.

Donald Wesson, President of the Baylor Scott White Health and Wellness Center at the Juanita J. Craft Center in south Dallas, said cooperative efforts around the city are what will best help alleviate health issues.

Wesson presented the work the Wellness Center has done the past eight years by partnering with Dallas’ Parks and Recreation Department and area churches to increase access to health care and nutrition education.

The center provides cooking classes, personalized nutrition and medical attention and opportunities for physical activity.

Among program participants, there’s been a 37 percent reduction in inpatient admissions and a 21 percent reduction in emergency room visits, Wesson said.

He added that he feels initiatives like this need more public support to show they can work.

“There’s always an opportunity to do more,” Wesson said. “We see the opportunity every day in the folks who come to see us. We would like to see the city not only improve the health of a community overall, but we would also like to have the city see [what happens] if you improve the management of diabetes, obesity and chronic kidney disease. Investing up front can reduce the costs of treating these down the line.”