8th Annual Dallas Hunger Summit

The 2019 Dallas Hunger Summit had yet another incredible turnout this year with a sold-out audience at the Briscoe Carpenter Livestock Center in Fair Park! This half-day event brought together individuals and representatives from over 200+ businesses, nonprofit organizations, diverse faith communities, education and healthcare systems, social service agencies, and philanthropic and government entities.

This year’s theme, Going from Hunger to Health: Building a Healthier Environment, focused on creating equitable communities and building a healthier environment for all.

Our first keynote speaker, Dr. Yvette Wingate, Health Equity Coordinator for Tarrant County Public Health, set the tone for the summit by engaging the audience to look at food access and community health through an equity lens. She examined the role of social determinants hindering health equity and conveyed the need to serve groups affected by health disparities with cultural humility. She explored innovative solutions from local, state and national best practices that aim to put health equity in action through healthy food access. You can view her entire presentation here: Looking at Healthy Food Access and Community Health through an Equity Lens, and Innovative Solutions from Local, State and National Best Practices

Following Dr. Wingate’s presentation, a distinguished panel of strategists from DHA Housing Solutions for North Texas, St. Paul Children’s Foundation, Child Poverty Action Lab, AARP Texas and City of Dallas shined a light on the policies, infrastructure and systems needed, with some already underway, in communities to advance collaborative steps to assure access to healthy food and optimal health for all. You can learn who the panelists were and access their slides here: Building a Healthier Environment: Policy, Infrastructure, and Systems

Yolanda Perez, DCHS Leadership Team Alumni member engaged the audience in exploring each of the DCHS Action Teams through the Passport to Community Wellness activity. This activity gave the audience not only a chance to learn how to get involved with DCHS Action Team hunger solutions, but also for the raffle drawing to win a copy of Jeremy Everett’s new book, I Was Hungry: Cultivating Common Ground to End an American Crisis.

The next segment of the conference focused on highlighting the role of the upcoming 2020 Census as a tool for creating equitable communities. Valerie Hawthorne PhD, Government Relations Director for the North Texas Food Bank, opened with an overview of public charge and the impact of food insecurity in North Texas. See her presentation here: Public Charge and Why the Census Matters to Food Insecurity

Our second keynote speaker, Arturo Vargas, CEO of both NALEO Educational Fund and the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, engaged the audience in understanding the Census by discussing overview, implications, and the basis for success in 2020. You can view his entire presentation here: The Census as a Tool for Creating Equitable Communities. The NALEO website is full of Census 2020 resources that organizations can access at their convenience. You can find them here: Make Yourself Count

Edward Turner, Census Coordinator for City of Dallas, shared ways to work in the community to help ensure a successful count; see his slides: 2020 Dallas Census Implementation: How You Can Help!

Our closing speaker, Jeremy Everett, the Executive Director of Texas Hunger Initiative, left the audience with a call to action through an impactful and motivational message remarking on the injustice of food insecurity and that surely, we can do better to extend a hand to our hungry neighbors.

All in all, this year’s Dallas Hunger Summit brought together amazing experts from diverse backgrounds to galvanize the conversation of how we can unite our different talents, resources and experiences to empower our fellow community members go from hunger to health, through collective impact and strategy to build a healthier environment for all.

A special acknowledgement to Wyonella Henderson-Greene, Coalition Coordinator, for making it possible for the Hunger Summit to be as great as it was.

This piece contributed to the blog by Elizabeth Au, Texas Hunger Initiative AmeriCorps VISTA member.