By Clarissa Loren
Despite several attempts to bring more business to Dallas south of I-30, the area largely remains a food desert. There are only two grocery stores there: Fiesta and Sav-a-lot. And restaurants? Let’s just say the options are bleak. As in other less wealthy areas of Dallas, there are not many healthy options, unless you consider fried chicken and hamburgers healthy — or options.
Enter Cynthia Nevels. The Dallas native is on a mission to bring healthier food options to the residents of south and west Dallas. Her food truck, Soulgood, is a vegan soul food alternative aimed at introducing plant-based eating to residents who would not otherwise have access to these options.
“I want to show them that eating plant-based doesn’t have to be bland or nasty,” she said. You can sometimes find her food truck at the South Dallas Market on MLK Blvd.
Nevels began introducing plant-based eating into her and her children’s diets years ago when her son was fighting for his life. Born with cystic fibrosis, he eventually received a double-organ transplant in an attempt to save his life. Willing to do anything to keep her son alive, Nevels began educating herself and changed the household diet.
It wasn’t easy transitioning with young children, however. “I had to find a way to make the food taste good — like the food they were used to eating,” Nevels reminisced.
That was long ago, and her children are grown now. However, Nevels took what she learned from that experience and launched Soulgood in October 2014. She has partnered with DISD to provide plant-based hot meals to students and their families during the pandemic.
Nevels has also served in Social Innovation at United Way of Dallas. Through research she was a part of while there, she found that many in the underserved communities of south and west Dallas have a keen interest in healthy eating, despite the stereotyped narrative that says otherwise.
“They just don’t know where to go,” she said. Nevels believes that healthy food options need to be relatable, accessible and affordable to these residents.
Although her food truck has been instrumental in bringing plant-based meals to the community, Nevels knows she isn’t the only business owner trying to help the community in this way. The vegan chef wants to see more plant-based options available in underserved communities.
“No one’s beating down our doors to give us money,” she quipped. “I would like to see more investment in viable businesses in our communities. We have the concepts and the skills to do it. We need money to bring it to fruition.
Find the food truck locations at https://www.eatsoulgood.com/ and be in the know when the restaurant opens.