The North Texas Food Bank Remembers Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Johnson was a groundbreaking U.S. representative and hunger fighter.

Eddie Bernice Johnson was a trailblazing politician whose pivotal work in the fight against hunger will long be remembered.

The retired U.S. representative died Dec. 31 at the age of 88. She was the first African American to serve as chief psychiatric nurse at the Dallas Veterans Administrative Hospital and the first woman in history to lead a major Texas House committee.

Throughout her decades-long career, Johnson sponsored or co-sponsored more than 65 bills related to food security, and she had a deep understanding of the importance of anti-hunger policy.

“Congresswoman Johnson leaves an immeasurable legacy. She was a consistently strong anti-hunger policy advocate, always willing to help and proud of the work she did to support food security,” NTFB President and CEO Trisha Cunningham said. “We are thankful for her longstanding commitment to hunger relief.”

During her last term, Johnson supported the Closing the Meal Gap Act of 2021, the Stop Child Hunger Act of 2021 and the EATS Act of 2021, among other measures. She was also a vocal supporter of the National School Breakfast Program and the positive impact access to food in schools can have on classroom performance. When Johnson hosted a Texas No Kid Hungry Summit in Dallas several years ago, she described child hunger as one of the most serious issues but said the good news is that “we have the resources to solve it.”

Along with her legislative work, Johnson was the founding chairwoman of the Dallas Coalition for Hunger Solutions, which includes the North Texas Food Bank, and she was crucial in bringing together community leaders across North Texas to address hunger and poverty in a collaborative setting.

The North Texas Food Bank recognized Johnson in 2022 with a Black Leadership Power of Community Award.

A Waco native, Johnson moved to Dallas in 1956 to work at the VA Hospital after earning her nursing certificate from St. Mary’s College at the University of Notre Dame. When she showed up for her first day of work after being hired sight-unseen, she told the Tin tức buổi sáng Dallas that they were surprised she was Black and took back their offer for her to live in an on-campus dorm. She said the racism she experienced there and in other facets of her life are part of what drove her political work. She went on to earn a bachelor’s in nursing from Texas Christian University and a master’s in public administration from Southern Methodist University.

Johnson was elected to the State House of Representatives in 1972, to the Texas State Senate in 1986 and to the U.S. House in 1992. She retired just a year ago.

“She was the single most effective legislator Dallas has ever had,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said, in a statement. “Nobody brought more federal infrastructure money home to our city. Nobody fought harder for our communities and our residents’ interests and safety. And nobody knew how to navigate Washington better for the people of Dallas.”

The North Texas Food Bank honors Johnson and will remember her legacy as a changemaker in anti-hunger policy and beyond.

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