FORT WORTH -- Opal Lee is on the board of the Community Food Bank and has long dreamed of getting a 50-acre garden so that fresh fruits and vegetables can be given to those in need.
Dawn Florey, who organizes volunteer efforts for Child Protective Services, said she knows of about half a dozen neighborhood gardens that donate food.
Others may like the idea of creating a network of neighborhood gardens across Tarrant County, so a soil-testing system should be in place to ensure that the harvested food is safe, said Johnny Lewis, who volunteers with a southeast Fort Worth development group.
That garden discussion illustrates how often, when a cross section of people get together in a room, new ideas or solutions form to help address community health needs, said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, the former state health commissioner.
Sanchez spoke to dozens of community members Wednesday as Tarrant County Public Health looked for participants for a new program, Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. County health officials plan to form a MAPP steering committee that will identify key health issues in the community and develop plans to address them.
"You need to think of what this could be and then make it happen," Sanchez said.
MAPP has been used for specific health needs in communities nationwide. For example, one county in California wanted to address infant health issues. So community partners came together through MAPP to create family resource centers where more women and newborns could get healthcare.
Larry Tubb said he's seen firsthand how such collaboration helps.
Tubb, senior vice president at Cook Children's Medical Center, helped create a similar partnership program in 2010 to address health issues in youngsters. Since then, five coalitions to address children's health have been established in surrounding counties.
Tubb noted that major health concerns facing Tarrant -- such as diabetes and heart disease -- haven't changed in years.
"That tells me that no one organization has the resources or talent to make a difference," he said. "So we have to do it in collaboration to move the needle forward."