How to Help Those With Food Insecurity Throughout Texas
“Is it not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice … Is it not to share your bread with the hungry?” Isaiah 58:6-7
In Texas alone, there are 4.7 million people who are food insecure (18.3%), and the statistics are even more staggering for children — 20% of Texas children.
The Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions works in five ways:
- Fruit and Vegetable Gardening
- Nutrition Education
- Emergency Food Assistance
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Child Hunger
For more information and to download their guide “Hunger Solutions for the Faith Community,” visit Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions. The mission of the coalition is to empower Dallas County residents to gain equal access to healthy food. DCHS is chaired by Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, and it has more than 49 organizations represented from the civic, nonprofit, business, and faith communities.
Hosting a community garden on church property can be an amazing experience for a congregation and can bring new life into the members, while connecting the church to the neighborhood in an entirely new way. Additionally, The United Methodist Church has adopted social principles around food justice (BOR p. 48) that encourage us to increase access to quality food for those with the fewest resources. Small-scale agriculture opportunities are affirmed in the social principles as opportunities for communities to feed themselves.
Tips for setting up a successful community garden:
- The church needs to connect with community groups from the very beginning to ensure the garden is constructed and governed in a way that the result is something the community actually wants.
- Instead of the church “owning” the garden, the church’s attitude needs to be one of merely “hosting” the site.
- When involving the community, be sure to include master gardeners in your neighborhood, city government, civic groups such as garden clubs, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, and the neighbors.
- Elect a garden manager (preferably not a church member) who will communicate and lead the garden members after construction.
- Investigate grant opportunities to help pay for the expense of the garden construction. For those of you in Dallas, the city of Dallas has a grant for community gardens.
To learn what churches in the North Texas Conference are doing, see our working list (compiled February 2017) of existing and previous gardens located at United Methodist churches. This list shows community partners, sizes, facilities, and the different types of gardens.
For additional resources, questions or comments about community gardening or our working list, please contact Rev. Marji Hill, Associate Director for Center for Missional Outreach, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-526-5000 x220.