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Food pantry that was lifeline when pandemic hit has become fixture in southeast Dallas

Thanks to Leadership Dallas, complete redo of neighborhood resource at Jubilee Park has been completed.

Marissa Castro Mikoy
Marissa Castro Mikoy, president and CEO of Jubilee Park and Community Center, said that the community center has recently become a distributor with the North Texas Food Bank and that by the fall the center hopes to have a grocery store model food pantry where residents will be able to shop with vouchers.(Rebecca Slezak / Staff Photographer)

By Sriya Reddy

At the height of the pandemic, Jubilee Park and Community Center in southeast Dallas created a makeshift food pantry for regular food distribution in the community. With COVID-19 deepening hunger in the neighborhood, which is in a food desert, the issue had reached crisis levels.

“When the pandemic hit, the needs of the community completely changed and shifted to basic needs,” said Marissa Castro Mikoy, the community center’s president. “The goal really became stabilizing families and making sure our families stayed housed.”

Over two years later, while the pandemic has eased, the need is still there. Jubilee Park decided that it was time to transform the pantry into something more permanent so it could serve neighbors better.

With the help of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Leadership Dallas Class of 2022, Jubilee Park’s food pantry is now renovated with grocery-style shelving, a refrigerator and freezer, storage space and other features that help increase food distribution in the community.

Mikoy said that the community center has recently become a distributor with the North Texas Food Bank and that by the fall the center hopes to have a grocery store model food pantry that will allow residents to shop with vouchers.

The regional chamber’s leadership class, composed of a little over 50 Dallas professionals hoping to serve their community, raised $200,000 for Jubilee Park.

Kathleen Davenport, a market executive at Wells Fargo and member of the leadership class, said Jubilee Park’s goal of addressing food insecurity appealed to a lot of people.

Leadership Dallas brings together professionals to maximize community impact through corporate resources and talents.

“It’s a great opportunity to understand Dallas, different communities, where the impact is and how you can really apply business resources that you have with your individual corporations and come together as a class to provide a greater economic and community good,” Davenport said.

“Jubilee’s mission of community support and really their pillars of education, workforce, housing, health, safety and general opportunity — there was a very strong overlap with those themes of what Jubilee’s focused on and what Leadership Dallas was teaching us,” she said.

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