Vegetables grown by UNTD Urban Agriculture students will stock The Jan Pruitt Community Food Pantry in Lancaster located at The St. Vincent Center.

Residents in southern Dallas communities often lack accessibility to basic whole foods such as fresh vegetables. The University of North Texas at Dallas and St. Vincent de Paul of North Texas, geographical neighbors in this underserved region known as a food desert, have partnered to create a Community Garden that will supply fresh produce to a local food pantry.

About two dozen UNT Dallas students enrolled in the Urban Agriculture Community Gardening course planted the first rotation of vegetables and herbs – 

carrots, radishes, collard greens, spinach, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, chives and rosemary — on Oct. 10 in 10 raised garden beds.

The beds, which will expand to 20 and will be maintained by the students as part of their course work, are located at The St. Vincent Center in Lancaster at the corner of N. Dallas Ave. and W. Rea Ave. The vegetables will be donated to the adjacent Jan Pruitt Community Pantry.

On Thursday, Oct. 24 at 9 a.m., UNT Dallas and St. Vincent de Paul of North Texas will celebrate this important initiative with a media event. UNT Dallas President Bob Mong, and St. Vincent de Paul of North Texas Executive Director Michael Pazzaglini will address an audience of key stakeholders before UNT Dallas students complete the initial phase by planting broccoli and kale.

“Many of UNT Dallas’ students grew up in the southern Dallas communities that surround our campus, and so they have first-hand knowledge of the need to provide residents with access to fresh produce,” Mong said. “For our students to participate in creating positive outcomes in the communities where they live is special, and also fulfills our university’s mission to strengthen our neighboring communities. We thank St. Vincent de Paul of North Texas for being so instrumental in this important partnership.”

The St. Vincent Center is a vital hub for services in the community. It is a resource for food and hygiene supplies, serves as a location for residents to apply for state programs like WIC and utility assistance with partners like TXU, and is actively working with community stakeholders to train and place residents in long-term employment.

St. Vincent de Paul of North Texas also partners with Catholic Charities of Dallas and The North Texas Food Bank to operate the Jan Pruitt Community Food Pantry at The St. Vincent Center.

“It is the mission of St. Vincent de Paul of North Texas to lift up our neighbors in need and walk beside them on their journey to self-sufficiency. We are blessed to have this opportunity to serve the Lancaster community,” Pazzaglini said. “In the three years since we opened the St. Vincent Center, we have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with community leaders to realize their vision for the future of Lancaster. We are thrilled to be able to collaborate with UNT Dallas on the Community Garden as part of that vision.”

The USDA defines food deserts as areas that are devoid of healthy whole foods, which are typically found within communities of low income and low-access to healthy and affordable food. As a result, many young people experience chronic health issues, low academic performance and a lower likelihood of thriving.

According to the North Texas Food Bank, more than 800,000 people across its 13-county service area are food insecure – one in six people – and one in every five kids in North Texas is food insecure, almost 300,000 children.

So far this calendar year, The Jan Pruitt Community Food Pantry, as part of the St. Vincent Center, has provided over 25,000 visitors more than 600,000 pounds of food.

The University of North Texas at Dallas empowers students, transforms lives and strengthens communities. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the downtown Dallas skyline, UNT Dallas is the fastest-growing university in Texas, the most affordable in Dallas-Fort Worth and ranks No. 1 in Texas for lowest student debt upon graduation. UNT Dallas includes the UNT Dallas College of Law in downtown Dallas and is part of the UNT System.

ABOUT ST. VINCENT de PAUL of North Texas

St. Vincent de Paul of North Texas is a volunteer organization that provides short-term financial, material and emotional support to residents in nine North Texas counties. In addition, SVdP programs and services provide systemic change by addressing the underlying root causes of poverty. These programs include a charitable pharmacy that provides free prescription medications to the uninsured, mini loans to those wanting to escape predatory payday loans, and an award-winning after school program. In FY2018, SVdP provided $6.2 million in services to over 65,000 people in North Texas.

UNT Dallas

Jeff Caplan
Media Director, Marketing & Communications
University of North Texas at Dallas
972.338.1082 or

SVdP North Texas