DALLAS, Texas (CSBDFW.COM) – Dallas looks to go ‘small’ to impact a huge problem: we’re talking about food deserts. With major grocery stores largely avoiding underserved areas, the city’s Office of Economic Development has set aside $250,000 in grant money to encourage non-profits to sow solutions. Grant recipients can receive up to $70,000.​

” Every little bit helps,” says Kay Thomason, Senior Director of Food Programs with CitySquare. “It would be huge for us to have access to additional funding to help with this project to get it started.”​

Thomason says CitySquare is already fighting food insecurity on several fronts– from after school and summer feeding programs to the non-profit’s food pantry. But, the efforts go far beyond peanut butter and canned goods: the focus now is on nutrition, efficiency and access. Their next innovation? Food recovery.​

(credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

“We are going to use food that might go to waste from the pantry or other bulk donations, repurpose it into healthy casseroles that can be frozen and distributed to our neighbors, either through the food pantry or at other access points in the food desert.”​

Thomason is eyeing grant funds to help finance the effort and is encouraged that the city sees value in how the non-profit community is delivering solutions in an expanding food desert.​

“If you understand poverty, and how it impacts mobility: it has to be a neighborhood by neighborhood answer,” says Daron Babcock, Founder and Executive Director of Bonton Farms. Babcock has been battling the food desert issue long before it became a buzzword, stressing that lack of nutritious food options is just one symptom of poverty. He says solutions include “…building economy, education people, empowering them to take control of their health, and have access to food: in smaller steps, a neighborhood at a time, and actually get much more accomplished in terms of really resolving the issue than if we were to have some major store dome down into a neighborhood like this.”​

Babcock’s small community garden has now grown into a 40 acre farm, a neighborhood market and restaurant– all planted in a food desert.​

“I think all of us together, we can solve the problem,” says Thomason.​

Grant applications are due May 24 at 5 p.m.​