One of the students, Greg Jeffers, posted what follows to his blog last evening after a full day in the field. His insights reflect an understanding and, even more importantly, a commitment to addressing the forces that keep so many of our neighbors pressed down.
(Day 2) Justice and Food: Spring Break with the Honors College
Posted by Greg Jeffers in My Life, Travel
Today was the second day of my journey with the ACU Honors College as we investigate questions of food distribution and justice. Today was packed full of exciting things.
We went to church this morning at a predominately African American church in south Dallas called St. Paul Baptist Church. This is one of the churches that actively partners with CitySquare. We were enthusiastically welcomed and were announced from the pulpit. Dr. Harbour was even asked to share a few words. It was definitely an experience. The primary focus of the service was on joy and trusting the Lord, even in difficult circumstances as well as on sacrificing what one has for the good of others. That message, in this neighborhood, took on an entirely different character from a similar message in, say, chapel at ACU.
Mr. James and some of his staff instructed us about food deserts in general and in South Dallas particularly. There was far more information than I can repeat here, but let’s suffice it to say that the problem goes well beyond lack of nutritious food—it goes into health concerns, financial concerns, business concerns, and political concerns. Ultimately, of course, as Dr. Johnson pointed out later in the day, it delves into the way we understand who people are. If people do not have adequate food, then they are sicker. If they are sick, then they cannot work. If they cannot work, they cannot earn money to buy food. If a neighborhood starts to go under, then those who can do so, move. Those who can’t are forced to stay, and the neighborhood gets poorer. As businesses leave, people are left with little means of employment. The problems snow-ball. Our main focus is, of course, access to food, but all of these other things are questions as well.
We then went on a tour of Dallas with Mr. James. He drove us around for two hours as he displayed a masterful knowledge of Dallas and the problems facing its citizens. He would point to various locations or groups of houses and discuss what work was ongoing to restore things. What became readily apparent is that CitySquare is engaged in a Resurrection work. They are heavily invested in the restoration of the broken places. There are a thousand ways they are involved. They do development, health clinics, homeless housing, food distribution, financial training, health education, and so much more. It was actually sort of dizzying to keep up with Mr. James’ easy explanation of what all CitySquare is up to in the city. Something Mr. James stressed, however, is that there is so much more to be done.
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