Frito-Lay employees recently visited Bonton Farms to take part in planting, gardening and other vital work at the farm as part of its Southern Dallas Thrives initiative.

Frito-Lay supports Bonton Farms in its mission to combat effects of poverty in Southern Dallas

by Ginni Beam, Special Contributor | July 24, 2019

The pervasive challenges faced by residents of Southern Dallas are felt most acutely in the small neighborhood of Bonton, where half of the population lives below the poverty line. Only 50 percent of Bonton youth will graduate from high school, and more than half the men in the community will be imprisoned before turning 25. The teen birth rate in Bonton is the second-highest in Dallas County.

Demonstrating the resilience and hope that characterizes citizens of Southern Dallas, Bonton residents are increasingly refusing to accept these odds and are stepping up to fight for the community. One way is through Bonton Farms, a revolutionary agricultural intervention.

Bonton Farms partners with the Bonton community to fight for change, restore lives and ignite hope in Southern Dallas, focusing their efforts on the key areas of health and wellness, economy-building, transportation and mobility, education and fair credit.

As part of the Southern Dallas Thrives initiative, launched by Frito-Lay North America and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Frito-Lay associates recently selected Bonton Farms as one of two United Way agencies to receive funds from a special Southern Dallas Thrives grant. The initiative aims to support these Southern Dallas residents through strategic grant investments and volunteer efforts. Frito-Lay’s employment opportunities in Southern Dallas also give the company a personal stake in the area’s strength and well-being.

“The people in places that Frito-Lay and its associates support will greatly benefit from the exposure and countless volunteer hours poured into their community from efforts like Frito-Lay’s Thrives Thursdays projects,” said Daron Babcock, executive director, Bonton Farms.

At its monthly “Thrives Thursdays” group volunteer events, Frito-Lay associates donate their time with various philanthropic community partners throughout the city and recently volunteered at Bonton Farms, planting, gardening and completing other vital work at the farm.

“Our Thrives Thursdays events continue to be a way for our associates to have a direct impact in the Southern Dallas community,” said Joan Cetera, vice president, communications, Frito-Lay North America. “At Bonton Farms, we were able to help plant produce that will eventually provide nutritious, fresh food to the Bonton community, largely known to be a food desert.” 

Providing access to healthy food is a critical part of the Bonton Farms mission. Compared to the rest of the county, Bonton residents suffer from more than double the rates of cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and childhood obesity. Many of these health issues stem directly from poor nutrition — the nearest grocery store is a three-hour round-trip bus ride away via public transit.

In response, Bonton Farms began growing its own food. The project, which began in a small lot, has grown into one of the largest urban farms in the United States. They also recently opened a food market, giving the food-insecure community easy access to nutritious, affordable food for the first time. Bonton Farms takes the extra step of offering health and wellness programming to educate and empower citizens to prepare and appreciate healthy food.

While health and wellness are a central focus for Bonton Farms, they continue to address the effects of poverty on multiple fronts. Bonton Farms is involved in employment training and job placement, small business start-ups and transportation services. They have even launched their own world-class private school and a cashless credit union that provides micro-loans for those helping to revitalize the community.

Bonton Farms is also supplying jobs to the local community. For people like Rigo Martinez, a manager on the farm, it’s a family affair. His daughter, Mariyah, also loves to come spend time at Bonton Farms, helping with tours, harvesting eggs, tending to the farm’s numerous animals and more.

“My daughter and I used to live in Bonton near the original farm. I just started hanging out and volunteering when I first learned about it, but recently, I became an employee 10 months ago,” Rigo Martinez said. “Every day there’s a new challenge, and I believe overcoming challenges builds character.”

As monumental as 2019 has been for Bonton Farms, the months and years to come promise to be even more exciting. To learn more about Bonton Farms, visit BontonFarms.org. To find out how to team up with Frito-Lay and give back to the Southern Dallas community through Southern Dallas Thrives, visit SouthernDallasThrives.com.

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