Food desert: Any locale where residents face limited access to fresh, healthy food.
Get Healthy Dallas grew out of a research-based advocacy initiative aimed at improving health in Dallas food deserts. Led by their advisor, Stacy Cherones, students in the SMU Ethics Design Team undertook a social-scientific study of a South Dallas food desert. Robert Foster, a South Dallas community advocate, connected the researchers with members of the Turner Twelve, a student mentoring program made up of twelve high school students in South Dallas. The Turner Twelve agreed to partner with Cherones, Foster, and the Ethics Design team to collect and analyze data collection.
The perspectives of the Turner Twelve proved central in developing a detailed understanding of the dynamics of food access, preparation, and sharing in the focus community. They also helped to map out attitudes about healthy living among adolescents, which facilitated more effective policy initiatives recommended in the final policy white paper. These policy initiatives included piloting a four-year Culinary Arts and Business elective curriculum in the local high school. A second policy proposal involves a media-based awareness campaign that would (1) foster greater health knowledge and (2) provoke discussion and advocacy around community health challenges.
Foster and Cherones met with various community leaders and decision-makers who helped to refine the policy recommendations and pledged support for their implementation. Having secured these key advocates, Cherones and Foster launched Get Healthy Dallas, a non-profit organization dedicated to research-driven food desert advocacy. Get Healthy Dallas’ first projects entail piloting of the Culinary Arts and Business curriculum and launching the health-focused media campaign. These activities are slated to begin in the fall of 2012.
Stacy Cherones, President & Co-founder of GHD
Stacy Cherones moved to Dallas in 2007 to pursue a Ph.D. in Religious Ethics at Southern Methodist University. She holds a BS in Education and Social Policy and BAs in History and Urban Studies from Northwestern University, and a MA in Religious Ethics from Columbia Theological Seminary. Between graduating from Northwestern and returning to pursue advanced academic degrees, Stacy worked for two large multinational corporations in various capacities, including Strategic Financial Analysis, Strategic Operations, Community Affairs, and Training. During this period, Stacy began investigating the potential for leveraging private sector expertise in service of public good. This connection between private and public good is central to Stacy’s doctoral dissertation, which focuses upon democracy and social ethics.
Robert Foster, Vice-President & Co-founder of GHD
Robert Foster resides in South Dallas and serves as scholar-in-residence at the University Park United Methodist Church. Foster earned his PhD in religious studies from Southern Methodist University, writing his dissertation on view of justice in the Christian biblical tradition. Alongside his work in churches and teaching in university settings, Foster served as a lead researcher and community advocate with the Foundation for Community Empowerment.