God, Garbage Converge on Cadiz Street

Volunteers hand out food to homeless in Downtown Dallas
Volunteers hand out food to homeless in Downtown Dallas | Image by Kellen Jones/The Dallas Express

God and garbage defined Cadiz Street on Saturday as well-meaning individuals and groups distributed food to the homeless in Downtown Dallas.

Behind the imposing colorless brutalist structure that is Dallas City Hall, under a grey drizzling sky and nestled between blocks of barren parking lots, scores of the city’s homeless and vagrants gathered to be fed.


Who does the feeding? It depends on which Saturday you are there.

“It changes every Saturday. Sometimes it is the churches, sometimes it is individuals,” said one homeless man who would only provide the name Billy C. He said he had been coming down there every weekend for two months.


The most popular food distributor of the day was a duo who gave out boxes of Williams Fried Chicken, chips, and sodas. They did not appear to be affiliated with any particular religious organization.

A group of Muslim medical students who said they were acting out of “the Ramadan spirit,” not on behalf of any educational institution or religious organization, distributed homemade Turkey sandwiches.


The containers that held most of the food were soon quickly abandoned to the ground as the homeless ate and meandered about the area.


Gutters, curbs, chain link fences, and nearly every sturdy object became receptacles where wind and rain would concentrate the refuse.


Red solo cups, cans of various beverages, and takeout from unidentifiable restaurants purchased or carried to Cadiz Street at unknown times from unknown locations also adorned the road.


Traffic was repeatedly stalled or stopped as motorists waited for the hungry to walk from one distributor to another.

Despite being located in the Government District, City services were sparse at the distribution site. There were no trashcans nearby.

At times there was a distant police presence. Several Dallas Police Department squad cars stopped by a few blocks away at the intersection of Ervay and Canton just before noon. However, after a moment of idling, they were gone.

Homeless recovery organizations have raised objections about the practice of “street feeding,” expressing concerns beyond just the regular accumulation of litter.

The Bridge, which operates a homeless shelter nearby, acknowledged that people who distribute food to the homeless have their “hearts … in the right place.” However, the organization raised broader issues about some of the fundamental dynamics of homelessness.

“While most think this is helping those living on the streets of Dallas, it is not. It worsens the problem because they know they will be able to get food from ‘street feeders’ and not seek services from homeless response and services agencies like The Bridge. Have you heard the quote, ‘Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime?’ It is the same principle,” a spokesperson told The Dallas Express.

“When they are forced to come in for a meal, our highly trained staff try to engage them, where they are, and build trust with them and encourage them to seek services. Homeless recovery is possible, and it is happening at The Bridge, however, the process can be long and filled with complexities and setbacks,” the spokesperson said before inviting anyone who wants to help to volunteer or donate to the organization or other groups who perform similar work, like The Stewpot, Austin Street, and domestic violence shelters.

Not everyone on Cadiz Street on Saturday afternoon was there to feed the body though. Some were there to feed the soul.


The Church Bus, a mobile chapel operated by Parkside Baptist Church, was also present.

From a simple wooden podium, several members of the Baptist church preached the gospel. The sermon focused on forgiveness and the fundamentals of the path to salvation.

The humble service was well attended, with nearly every seat occupied for most of the ceremony.

The service, which begins every Saturday at 11:30 a.m., was brought to a close just after noon with a singing of “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”

The clergymen did not feed any of the parishioners or passersby, although they told DX they do sometimes take the homeless to their church on Gross Road in Mesquite to be fed.


“We come to give encouragement from the Bible,” said Anthony Jones (pictured above).

By 12:15 p.m., rain began to pummel the stacks of trash that covered the ground, and the homeless in the vicinity mostly dispersed. Some remained, covering themselves with raincoats and tarps, while others went in every direction, appearing to seek shelter elsewhere.

The food distributors departed quickly while the Church Bus stuck around for some time to continue interacting with those they had come to save.

Some 75% of Dallas voters say homelessness, vagrancy, and panhandling continue to be “major” problems throughout the city. Polling conducted by DX has shown that most Dallas residents support trying the “one-stop-shop” model utilized by Haven for Hope in San Antonio, which has been credited with a 77% reduction in unsheltered homelessness in the city’s downtown area by providing transitional housing on the same campus it provides social services.

Surveyed residents have also registered their displeasure with what the City has been doing to maintain cleanliness, as previously reported by DX.

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