Elizabeth Dry has long been serving Dallas communities their vegetables with her work as executive director of Promise of Peace Community Gardens.
The nonprofit focuses on families living in food deserts. Next time you’re at Trinity Groves, look around the northwest edge of the development, and you’ll see one of the partner youth farms for the la Bajada neighborhood.
Last November, Dry experimented with a program to get the food farther than from garden to household. The Soup it Forward Initiative launched in January, supplying soup kits — fresh ingredients from the garden and recipes — to families, who are encouraged to take an additional kit to share with a neighbor.
“It has really taken off,” Dry says. “Chefs have helped us with recipes and ingredients, everything.”
All the ingredients are organic and local — consistent traits of Dry’s work — and the recipes are meant to be approachable for the whole family.
“We did cooking classes, but a lot of the food would go to waste, they didn’t get around to cooking it,” she says. “Soup is very flexible in its own nature ... I really watch chefs feed people, and the emotion and the passion that’s connected to it. So I was like, if I can create this little soup kit that evokes this celebration around the food, this food is not only going to make it to their table, it’s going to make it to their celebrations and traditions.”
Dry hauls around 500 pounds a week in her own vehicle to get vegetables and soup kits to families, which has caused her to long for a car devoted to such work for 10 years. She “ruined” three of her own cars with growing food, paint, etc., causing the cars to be “practically composted.”
This August, she’ll be able to share food via a new truck, one that’s at least new to Dry and soup kits. Promise of Peace is hosting an event this Thursday to celebrate the 1996 Chevy, fresh from the shop after a new transmission, plenty of other work and a paint job.
“We’re going to spread our food distribution program all over the city. We’ll be able to haul more with less time, fix it up to organize the things we can share with the community,” she says.
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With the feedback she’s received by serving neighborhoods immediately surrounding gardens, it’s no wonder she’s eager to expand.
People have shared that they’re learning the soup ingredients and using them in other dishes; they’ve shared a soup kit with a neighbor, whom they saw smile for the first time; and families are getting more time together.
“We’ve heard, ‘Our family is eating together now. We really never sat down and ate together before.’ That’s huge,” she says. “(Kids in) families who eat together are more likely to stay in school and out of trouble.”
The Thursday event, Trucking for Food Equity Celebration, will be from 4 to 7 p.m. at 20 Feet Seafood Joint and Good Friends Beer Garden near Peavy and Garland roads.