How does systemic racism and income inequality affect access to fresh produce? How does this historically prevalent lack of access affect physical and emotional well being? Director Elroy “EJ” Johnson delves into these questions in his documentary, A Food Justice Story, which airs on KERA tonight at 10:30 p.m. Set your DVRs.
Johnson turns his lens to Oak Cliff and West Dallas, where communities of color are grappling with these realities while working to overcome them. Local leaders like Ples Montgomery IV, who founded the Oak Cliff Veggie Project (OCVP) around 2016, not only provides healthy food options but gives community members the tools to empower themselves.
“Our mission is to create a healthier, stronger and more self-reliant community through the reintroduction of the practice of cooperative community cultivation,” Montgomery told me one Saturday morning off Kiest Boulevard at one of OCVP’s many community gardens. The Sankofa Community Garden is tucked onto the Unitarian Universalist Church grounds, where Montgomery runs a food distribution program in Kiestwood. People drive through the parking picking up gallons of milk and vegetables, much of it donated from local farms and the rest grown and provided by OCVP.
Montgomery is one of many Dallas bellwethers striving toward change. In the film, Stacie Ellis, a registered dietitian and Ph.D. candidate at Texas Women’s University, talks about the importance and lack of Black dietitians. Ellis, alongside other Black women featured in the film, play a crucial role is bridging the gap to healthier food options.
“A Food Justice Story” is a part of KERA’s Art & Seek “Frame of Mind” series, in which 14 episodes showcase independent Texas film and video. Tonight, Johnson’s documentary will air alongside “Forgotten Grounds,” a film by director Mark Muller. Muller illuminates the injustices at Oakland Cemetery in South Dallas, where “[w]eather, neglect, an apathetic city government, and a poorly run board of trustees have all combined to run this Dallas landmark literally into the ground.”
Thu, Nov. 4 at 10:30 p.m. | KERA PBS channel TK
For a behind-the-scenes look at how A Food Justice Story was made, check out its Instagram page: @oakcliffdocumentary. You can read more about the film on KERA’s Art & Seek website and watch the trailer here: