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Dallas Elected Officials Get on the Bus to DRIVE AWAY Senior Hunger!

The Senior Hunger Action Team of the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions recently invited area elected officials to learn about the problem of senior hunger up close. These special guests visited different programs in our community focused on addressing this critical issue during a bus tour that started at the VNA Haggerty Center, continued to the North Texas Food Bank, and concluded at the Concord Senior Center.

In Dallas County more than 20,000 seniors live in poverty, putting them at high risk for food insecurity. Seniors on limited budgets often find it challenging to regularly obtain nutritious food. Not having adequate nutrition makes it harder for seniors to stay healthy or successfully manage chronic health conditions, imperiling their independence and quality of life, and straining the health care system.

Programs such as senior congregate meals, Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Meals on Wheels play a key role in providing access to healthy food for seniors.

Dallas City Council Members Casey Thomas II and Kevin Felder and representatives of State Senator Royce West, Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson had the opportunity to visit several locations to help them better understand how each of these programs serves the seniors in their districts. The Senior Source CEO Cortney Nicolato, North Texas Food Bank CEO Trisha Cunningham, Zach Thompson, Director of Dallas County Health and Human Services and VNA President/CEO Katherine Krause pressed these policy makers to improve and increase access to these programs that help seniors. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, a long time champion in the fight against senior hunger, helped rally support.

The Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions brings together organizations and individuals committed to empowering residents of Dallas County to gain equal access to healthy food. The Senior Hunger Action Team, one of five Coalition Action Teams, unites organizations concerned about senior hunger. The Action Team members collaborating on Get on the Bus! included the City of Dallas Senior Services Program, Dallas Area Agency on Aging, Dallas County Older Adult Services, the North Texas Food Bank, The Senior Source, the Texas Hunger Initiative and VNA Meals on Wheels.

Check out North Texas Food Bank’s Facebook page for video coverage of remarks by elected officials, organizational leaders and seniors at Concord Senior Center about the importance of senior nutrition programs, including the Concord Senior Center’s congregate meals program.

 

This piece was contributed to the blog by Wyonella Henderson-Greene, Coalition Coordinator.

SEEDING Dallas II: More Good Food for the City

SEEDING Dallas II, a sequel to the first SEEDING Dallas forum organized by the Urban Agriculture Action Team of the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, ramped up the momentum for urban gardening in Dallas! Once again, current and emerging growers came together to network with each other and hear from garden experts. Veteran gardeners and farmers shared with over 40 attendees what they’ve learned growing food, managing gardens and selling at markets in North Texas. Three Learning Tracks covered a wide range of gardening skills and interests.

Growing a Garden included siting the garden and building soil, seasonal planting, container vegetables and composting. The following are two of the presentations:

 

Community Garden Management featured experienced community organizers who stressed the importance of engaging the community first for a sustainable community garden project. Successful community garden managers shared tips for funding and developing community garden leadership and volunteers. The following are two of the presentations:

 

The Market Garden track educated growers on what kinds of things to consider in preparing to sell at farmer’s markets, including safe harvesting and handling practices. Check out Harvesting and Selling: A Guide for New, Small Urban Producers for more information.

Stay tuned for more opportunities from the Urban Agriculture Action Team to learn and develop sustainable local food production in and around Dallas!

This piece was written and contributed to the blog by Wyonella Henderson-Greene, Coalition Coordinator

Coalition’s Urban Agriculture Partners Team up to Make Fresh Produce Happen in Dallas Food Deserts

Kudos to our DCHS partners, The Sunny South Community Garden and GROW North Texas, whose efforts were featured in the WFAA Channel 8 broadcast report below:

DALLAS – Sunny South Community Garden is one place in the heart of South Dallas that is providing healthy food options.

“We’ve got okra. We’ve got tomatoes, we’ve got cucumbers,” Clarice Criss said.

The Garden is tucked in a neighborhood where quality fruits and vegetables are a challenge to find. “This garden is here in this community because it’s often overlooked,” she explained.

Criss is an urban farmer and an agriculture specialist. She is among a group of people working to address food challenges across southern Dallas.

“The access to the food that we have in this community right now, is not equitable to the rest of the city,” said Criss.

“If I want something to eat, my options are burgers, fried chicken, fried catfish. We don’t have access to fresh produce in this neighborhood,” she said.

Access to fresh healthy foods, and options, are what advocates are determined to make sure more families get.

Each Tuesday, there are large crowds packing the lobbies of local Women, Infants, and Children or “WIC” offices in Dallas. They are lining up to pick out and purchase produce at the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program…

…The WIC Farmers Market is a partnership with the non-profit Grow North Texas. After two years, it is now serving hundreds of families from WIC locations in either Oak Cliff or Pleasant Grove.

Susie Marshall is the executive director. “We are seeing an amazing amount of response to the program. This is the first time that this has been done in Dallas,” Marshall said.

Continue at the link below:

http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/dallas-county/wic-farmers-market-provides-healthy-options-for-families-in-food-deserts/482351184

Coalition Partner holds 7th Annual Fresh Food Day for Low-Income Neighbors

Ascension fresh food day 2017(Dabney)

Ascension Fresh Food Day 2017 (3)

Episcopal Church of the Ascension had an extremely successful Fresh Food Day 2017 this past Saturday, October 7th. This was the church’s 7th annual outreach event for neighbors living in lower income apartment homes along Whitehurst Road and the surrounding community. Over 350 adults and children attended the event.

The coordinators of this special day include Dabney Dwyer, Ascension Outbound, Jill Goad, Feed Lake Highlands and Diana Baker, Kids-U. The goal is to partner with multiple organizations and nonprofits to provide FREE fun educational activities focusing on healthy eating and lifestyle.

Some of the groups and organizations involved included, Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Feed Lake Highlands, Kids-U, Moss Have Beta Club, Richland College, Breast Bridge Network, Baylor Diabetes Health and Wellness, Junior League, Children’s Health and the Dallas Water Department.

In particular, a special thanks and recognition goes to PepsiCo and Sharing Life Community Outreach for the donation of over 1000 lbs. of produce! Participants were able to take home large amounts of various produce to include apples, bananas, potatoes, peppers and carrots! In addition, Equal Heart in partnership with the Texas Department of Agriculture provided 200 prepared take home meals for all children participants. Healthy snack bags where also provided to all by Moss Haven Elementary Beta Club and Feed Lake Highlands.

This piece was written and contributed to the blog by Dabney Dwyer, Community Outreach Liaison for the Episcopal Church of the Ascension

Community Leaders Convene for the 6th Annual Dallas Hunger Summit

HungerSummitAudience“Embrace the challenge” was the charge from key note speaker, The Reverend Larry James, at the 2017 Dallas Hunger Summit. Presented by the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions and hosted by Cliff Temple Baptist Church, the 6th Dallas Hunger Summit was attended by over 230 community leaders. Students, faith community members, non-profit leaders, health and education professionals, and healthy food access advocates convened to hear about the status of food insecurity in greater Dallas and the innovative solutions taking place to help reduce the problem.

Master of Ceremonies and founder of the community uplift organization For Oak Cliff, Taylor Toynes, deftly guided the proceedings which opened with a welcome from Marsha Mills, Director of Mission Oak Cliff, a community ministry of Cliff Temple Baptist Church providing emergency food and other services. The program continued with remarks from Coalition Chairperson, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who lamented that even after the strides made by the Coalition since its creation, children are still hungry. Reverend James exhorted us to empower those who need help to become part of the solution and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins rounded out the opening plenary with a call for compassion and collaboration in facing our community’s most difficult obstacles.

Breakout sessions were an opportunity to learn about the various initiatives underway in the Coalition’s priority action areas of child hunger, senior hunger, faith community engagement, urban agriculture and healthy food access. Participants heard about effective solutions occurring in under resourced communities to eliminate barriers to nutritious food and how they can support these efforts. Several of these presentations are available here:

 

A public policy panel discussion on the important role of federal nutrition programs, particularly SNAP, provided food for thought during lunch. Simon Powell, COO of the North Texas Food Bank, joined Metrocrest Services CEO Tracy Eubanks and Parkland Hospital Director of Social Impact, Vidya Ayyr, to enlighten us on how SNAP helps them fight hunger and poverty and promote health. Marc Jacobson, Texas Hunger Initiative’s Dallas Regional Director, demonstrated graphically the significance of SNAP as by far the largest anti-hunger program and pressed attendees to sign petitions urging lawmakers to preserve this safety net program. View this SNAP presentation here.

The 2017 Dallas Hunger Summit is a wrap, but our work continues. See you in the trenches!

This post was written and contributed to the blog by Wyonella Henderson-Greene, Coalition Coordinator