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Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson tree planting ceremony promotes fight against hunger

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By Julie Fancher

Volunteers were up bright and early to plant fruit trees in five Dallas neighborhoods Saturday as part of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson’s fight against hunger. Johnson (D-TX), an estimated 30-40 volunteers, and officials with TXU Energy, the Texas Trees Foundation, and the community were on hand to supervise the planting of 25 trees.

The trees were donated by TXU Energy and included fig, apple, peach and pear. Once the trees start bearing fruit, neighbors will be free to pick them for healthy snacks. Trees were planted at the West Dallas Community Church on Canada Drive; the True Lee Missionary Baptist Church on Bertrand Avenue; the T.R. Hoover Community Center on Bexar Street; the Jubilee Community Center on Bank Street; and the Promise of Peace Garden on E. Grand Ave.

“The locations were picked because we identified them as food deserts, or areas where there is limited access to healthy foods and grocery stores” said Matt Grubisich, an urban forester with the Texas Trees Foundation.
Volunteers, including children from the We Care Youth Center in DeSoto, began planting at the locations about 8:30 in the morning, with the last trees planted shortly before noon. Johnson held what she billed as a “Fruit of Hope Tree Planting Ceremony” at the Promise of Peace Garden site.

“This issue is not a lack of food, the supply is available, but rather a lack of education,” said Johnson about her campaign to end hunger. “We are trying to eliminate the stigmas or the language barriers so that young children feel comfortable asking for help.”

Dallas is one of the ten worst cities nationwide for child hunger, and 4.2 million Texans either experience hunger outright or do not have access to food aid programs, according to Johnson.

Saturday’s plantings were in association with the Texas Hunger Initiative, the Texas No Kid Hungry campaign, and the newly formed Dallas-Area Food Planning Association, all of which hope to bring attention to local and national child hunger.

The idea to plant fruit trees started with Johnson and her office staff, said her aides, who then reached out to the Texas Trees Foundation for help. The Foundation reached out to TXU Energy, which agreed to donate the trees. The event was also sponsored by Johnson’s EBJ Youth Council.

“The Congresswoman organized and coordinated the event. She wants hunger gone from the district, so hopefully this will be the starting point,” said Fatima Ali, Constituent Services Liaison for Congresswoman Johnson’s Dallas office.

Denise Gomez from the Texas Hunger Initiative described the tree planting ceremony as a collaborative effort of volunteers, local leaders, non-profit organizations and elected officials to take the issue from a local level to the national level.

Volunteer Patty Bates-Ballard brought her two children and step-grandson to help plant trees at the Promise of Peace Garden location.

“Local gardening is so important. Our food supply is our lifeline and if we have local, organic food that we produce ourselves, then we will be a healthier community,” said Bates-Ballard.

“Think of yourself as being hungry and between you being starving and a pear or a peach, it makes a difference,” said Johnson.

Julie Fancher is a junior at Southern Methodist University studying convergence journalism and political science

  • DallasBoy

    Why is it that she only appears in the community when it’s election time?

  • TXDiva

    She’s only doing ANYTHING because she’s finally getting the challenge she should have gotten years ago! It’s time for her to go! She does nothing for our district. This is all a show. How do you serve 20 years in Congress and not have a decent committee appointment? How do you serve 20 years in Congress and author THREE bills. She’s a joke. I’m glad somebody is finally challenging her. People need to WAKE UP and VOTE HER OUT! Insanity is voting for the same person and expecting different results! Stop the madness!

  • Libby

    Thank you Congresswoman, your continued leadership is so inspirational. Your list of accomplishments on behalf of our community could fill several lives.

  • Libby

    In fact, Congresswoman is the author of over 187 bills that have been passed by the House, passed by the Senate and signed into Law by the President.

    You might be confusing her with her opponents neither of which has ever passed a bill.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/T4ZDTFFVGJB5NBUX66T5LNOMHU Harold

    Libby, I think TX is right. EBJ “sponsored” 187 bills. The sponsors of a bill are the people who generally present it to be voted on (Didn’t actually write the physical bill). They “support” the bill prior to a vote putting their name on the bill and urging others to sign it. There’s a difference between writing bills to benefit our district and riding the coat tails of other members of Congress.

  • Libby

    Now Harold both you and TX diva are misinformed or just plain ignorant.

    You are entitled to your opinion but not your facts.

    EBJ has authored or co authored over 187 bills that are now LAW

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/T4ZDTFFVGJB5NBUX66T5LNOMHU Harold

    Wow! Ignorant? Really? That’s your response? Time to end this pointless conversation. There’s no sense in trying to educate someone who gets emotional and insulting when faced with opposition or truth. Typical. You keep your forced fed “facts” and I’ll keep my truth. And I noticed how you conveniently changed your words to “or co authored.” You really have no clue do you? You’re just repeating what someone else gave you huh?

  • Gmason214

    Senator Eddie Bernice Johnson has always been in the community.

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