OAK CLIFF (CBSDFW.COM) – In Dallas communities where food insecurity is common and fresh, healthy options are not: the seeds of change have already been planted. The Singing Hills Community Garden is one such resource.
“Locally grown, locally sourced produce is going to be the answer to solving the food desert problem,” says Ples Montgomery IV, with the Oak Cliff Veggie Project, “we can do it ourselves.”
But, local advocates need not do it *by* themselves… an innovative, collaborative effort launched at the University of North Texas at Dallas campus looks to provide more healthy food options via a mobile food market.
“The bus will set up shop and it will be exactly this type of environment,” says UNT Dallas biology professor Kelly Varga, gesturing to a pop up market assembled for the morning announcement. “It will be a farmer’s market style approach where we hope community members are engaging with each other: how to cook, how to grow, and of course, engage the platform of education that’s out there.”
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) is donating the low emissions bus that will be converted to the mobile market. A $268,000 donation from the Toyota Foundation will fund scholarships for students tasked with providing data driven solutions to the problem. Students will also look to create a sustainable business model to help insure the program’s long-term success.
“I know for a fact that there’s a lot of big companies here who do a lot of good things,” says Mike Goss, President, Toyota USA Foundation. “Toyota doesn’t have all the answers. These other companies as individuals and non profits and universities don’t have all the answers; but, collectively, I think we can make great things happen.”
The mobile market is slated to launch in the spring, with three regular stops. Community gardeners and growers are expected to play a key role toward sourcing the vegetables, looking to expand their reach in neighborhoods they’re already committed to serving.
“The goal is to overcome obstacles to both access and options,: says Varga.
“We’re ready to be a part of it,” says Montgomery, whose family has spent years growing and giving away vegetables in their southern sector neighborhood. ” We’ve got good stuff growing here. Other local farmers that we are helping bring to the table…we’re very, very excited about it.”