Goal of MLK Food Park, now in Fair Park, is ‘welcoming’ South Dallas residents and people of color

By Fatima Syed,

July 25, 2022

Food Apartheid

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The MLK Pop-Up Food Park returned to South Dallas this summer, moving from Martin Luther King Boulevard to a new location in Fair Park.

The popular event featuring Black-owned food vendors launched in spring 2021. Desiree “Dee” Powell, who managed the initial food park for Better Block and The Real Estate Council, was determined to make the temporary park a permanent fixture in our neighborhood.

Powell is an urban planner and executive director of Do Right By The Streets, and says her main motivator for the MLK Food Park was to create a safe space for businesses of color.

“I want it to be welcoming for people who look like me as a Black woman or as a person of color.”

She pulled together original vendors and recruited new ones for two more events in 2021, in July and September. Folks in the South Dallas community embraced the flavors and the gathering space. 

Customers wait in line to order from vegan food truck HopeBoy’s Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Do Right By the Streets

Powell says vendors are able to advertise their businesses and establish a community network. The majority of the businesses are based in or started in South Dallas, she says. 

This summer’s MLK Food Park pop-up on four Sundays in June and July is a partnership with Fair Park First. Alyssa Arnold, the director of strategic initiatives at Fair Park First, oversees the short term and long term goals for Fair Park.

“Just from seeing the first event introduce people to the community, we want to reintroduce, or just introduce, people to Fair Park,” Arnold says. “We want to bring people to the campus so they can see it as a part of their space and not an island, and what better way to bring people together than with food?”

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For residents of South Dallas, the food park is a great way to come together as a community, show support for local small businesses and enjoy a variety of music and food, Powell says.

DJ King Shakur brings the energy at MLK Food Park. Photo courtesy of Do Right By the Streets

The majority of the food vendors are focused on healthy food options, like Yazzi Cake’s vegan styled baked goods or Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food’s meals, Powell says. 

“We want people to see the food park as a space that can provide these alternatives like vegan options, vegetarian options, just healthy options,” she says. “We want it to start to open up more dialogue of how this can be done at a community development level.”

The event also includes small businesses ranging from jewelry shops to herb stores. Powell says she really wants entrepreneurs to build a community with their fellow vendors.

“There’ve been other events I’ve done where the organizers just put it together, but Dee takes such good care of you. It feels like one big barbecue,” says Zeni Demissie, owner of Infused by Zen. “Everyone knows each other and is out here supporting each other,” 

The initial food park was held on Martin Luther King Boulevard down the street from the Forest Theater and Cornerstone Baptist Church, then moved a few blocks closer to Fair Park in a space across from the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. This first two events this summer were located outdoors, behind the former Natural History Museum in Fair Park. Vendors say it has less visibility, and wonder if that’s why the turnout hasn’t been as good compared to last year.

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“Last year it was closer to the street and I remember people telling me they were just driving by and decided to check it out,” says Bri Taylor, owner of Bri Bakes.

Taylor hopes turnout will improve as the pop-ups continue.

 Bri Taylor, owner of Bri Bakes at the MLK Food Park. Photo courtesy of Do Right By the Streets

Due to this summer’s triple-digit temperatures, last Sunday’s event was moved inside the National History Museum building, Powell says.

“It’s right next to the lot we’ve been utilizing for the food park. With this heat being so overwhelming, we want to curate a safer space for folks to gather,” Powell says.

This summer’s final MLK Food Park at Fair Park is this Sunday, July 31, noon-4 p.m, and again will be held inside the museum building.

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    La meta de MLK Food Park, ahora en Fair Park, le da la ‘bienvenida’ a los residentes de South Dallas y gente de color.

    By Fatima Syed,

    July 25, 2022

    Food Apartheid

    Share this Post

    El MLK Pop-Up Food Park regresó a South Dallas este verano, mudándose de Martin Luther King Boulevard a una nueva locación en Fair Park.

    El evento popular en donde hubo vendedores de comida propiedad de color inició esta primavera del 2021. Desiree “Dee” Powell, quien manejaba el parque de comida para Better Block y The Real Estate Council, fue decidido a hacer del parque temporal un elemento permanente en nuestro vecindario.

    Powell es una planeadora urbana y directora ejecutiva de Do Right By The Streets, y dice que su meta para el MLK Food Park era crear un lugar seguro para la gente de color y sus negocios.

    “Quiero que sea un lugar acogedor para la gente que se ve como yo, como una mujer de color o como una persona de color.“

    Pudo conseguir vendedores y también conseguir unos nuevos para dos eventos más en el 2021, en julio y en septiembre. Gente en la comunidad de South Dallas disfrutaron los requisitos y el espacio de reunión.

    Clientes esperan en línea para ordenar comida vegana de HopeBoy’s Kitchen. Foto cortesía de Do Right By the Streets

    Powell dice que los vendedores pueden promover sus negocios y estabilizar una red comunitaria. La mayoría de los negocios son basados en o empezaron en South Dallas, dice ella.

    Este verano, MLK Food Park pop-up en cuatro domingos en junio y julio se asocia con Fair Park primero. Alyssa Arnorld, la directora de iniciativas estratégicas en Fair Park First, supervisa los objetivos a corto y largo plazo de Fair Park.

    “Con solo ver el primer evento introducir a gente a la comunidad, queremos reintroducir, o solo introducir, gente a Fair Park.” Dice Arnold. “Queremos traer a gente al campus para que lo vean como parte de su espacio y no una isla, ¿y qué mejor manera de unir a gente que con comida?”

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    Para residentes de South Dallas, el parque de comida es una gran manera de unirse como una comunidad, demostrar apoyo a pequeñas empresas locales y disfrutar una variedad de música y comida, dice Powell.

    DJ King Shakur trae el ambiente en el MLK Food Park. Foto cortesía de Do Right By the Streets

    La mayoría de los vendedores de comida se enfocan en opciones saludables de comer, tal como el estilo vegano de postres de Yazzi Cake’s o las comidas de Sassy’s Vegetarian Soul Food’s , dice Powell. 

    “Queremos a gente que vea el parque de comida como un espacio donde ofrece estas alternativas como opciones veganas, opciones vegetarianas, o simplemente opciones saludables,” ella dice. “Queremos empezar abrir más diálogo sobre cómo se puede hacer esto a nivel de desarrollo comunitario.”

    Este evento también incluye pequeños negocios, de joyerías a tiendas de hierbas. Powell dice que ella tiene muchas ganas de ser una emprendedora para construir una comunidad para sus compañeros vendedores.

    “También ha habido otros eventos que he hecho en donde los organizadores lo planean, pero Dee está muy al pendiente de ti.” Dice Zeni Demissie, dueña de Infused by Zen. “Todos se conocen y todos se apoyan.”

    El parque inicial de comida era en el Martin Luther King Boulevard cerquita Forest Theater y Cornerstone Baptist Church, y después se mudó a unas cuadras más cerca a Fair Park en un espacio cerca el Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. Estos dos primeros eventos este verano fueron localizados afuera, atras del Natural History Museum in Fair Park. Los vendedores dicen que el evento tiene menos visibilidad, y se preguntan que si por eso no les fue tan bien como el año anterior.

    “El año pasado estuvo más cerca a la calle y me acuerdo que la gente me decía que estaban manejando alrededor y solo decidieron a bajarse para ver que había,” dice Bri Taylor, dueña de Bri Bakes.

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    Taylor espera que ya con el tiempo, haya más gente.

     Bri Taylor, dueña de Bri Bakes en el MLK Food Park. Foto cortesía de Do Right By the Streets

    A resultado del clima de este verano, el evento del domingo lo movieron hacia adentro del edificio del National History Museum, dice Powell.

    “Esta a lado del lote que hemos estado utilizando para el parque de comida. Con este calor puede ser muy desgastante, queremos tener un lugar más seguro para la gente cuando se reúna,” dice Powell.

    El último MLK Food Park en Fair Park es este domingo, 31 de julio, 12pm-4 p.m, y otra vez será adentro en el edificio del museo.

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