Waco nonprofits branch out into food truck industry
From “The Lariat” Baylor’s award-winning student news organization
In the last several years, food trucks have taken Waco by storm, with hubs at University Parks Drive and Magnolia Marketplace as well as appearances at university events like Diadeloso. Pokey O’s, Xristo’s Cafe and Milo Local Provisions are only a few of the food trucks that serve distinctive options to local patrons. Meals on wheels are all around in this college town.
However, two local nonprofits are going beyond just adventurous cuisines by
turning food trucks into tools
for urban outreach. Urban Edibles, the latest installment of Mission Waco, and Veggie Van, which is operated by World Hunger Relief, are using the recent trend in portable restaurants to their advantage.

The USDA defines a food desert as a geographic region, usually in an impoverished
area, with limited or no access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Large sections of Waco, mainly in the northern areas of the city, are characterized as food deserts, areas which are lacking in whole foods but rich in gas stations and convenience stores.

Jimmy Dorrell, founder of Mission Waco, works to rehabilitate the impoverished area of North Waco with the many different branches and programs of his nonprofit, including the Jubilee Theatre, the World Cup Cafe and, most recently, Urban Edibles. we are going to teach him how to work.”

Dorrell prides Mission Waco on offering all the aid of a charity organization without making those in need feel like they can’t be independent.

“Empowerment is really critical,” Dorrell said. “It’s the model that shows that a kid can work. We are not going to give him things.”  

This approach to ministry inspired the creation of Urban Edibles, which opened in September. To make a place for the young people of Waco to work and learn job skills, Dorrell repurposed a snow cone trailer that once catered to beachgoers in Galveston, giving it new life and purpose as a food truck.

The food truck is usually parked at 1505 N. 15th St., where it dishes out pulled pork and chicken parmesan sandwiches, burgers and fries from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays.

Nazry Mustakim, who turned to Mission Waco for help in hard times, operates the Urban Edibles truck. He said he stayed to volunteer for the organization once he was back on his feet, and he later joined the staff to repay the kindness shown to him. Now, he wakes up at dawn to make breakfast for up to 40 of Waco’s homeless, another of the food truck’s services. Mustakim works for Urban Edibles as a way to gain experience for his own career in the food industry.

“Without Mission Waco, I wouldn’t be where I am now,” Mustakim said. “I am deeply grateful. Just pouring back and getting involved with Mission Waco is something I enjoy doing.”
Baylor Theatre alumni fling their green and gold afar
From “The Lariat” Baylor’s award-winning student news organization
Baylor Theatre stands among the giants; according to its website, the program ranks among the top 20 in the nation for undergraduate drama and theater arts programs. Baylor Theatre offers undergraduates rigorous training in theater performance, history, design and technology.
That’s not all it provides, however. Baylor Theatre equips its students with more than just acting and technical skills; it ensures that graduates are capable and competitive in the cutthroat entertainment industry they’re entering. Allison Tolman, Toby Meuli and their close-knit group of Baylor Theatre friends have been able to navigate the Los Angeles film industry thanks to the rigor of their undergraduate department.

“There are universities with more alumni out here,” said Meuli, who graduated from Baylor in 2004. “But Baylor Theatre students, in my experience, are some of the smartest, hardest-working and best trained, and it just shows in what they do.”

Toby Meuli migrated to Los Angeles with fellow Baylor Theatre alumna (and now wife) Katharine Everett Meuli. The pair met while rehearsing for an undergraduate performance, and he said their “show-mance” quickly blossomed in the many hours they spent together in rehearsals.

Rising star Tolman, also an original Guerrilla Troupe member and 2004 graduate, has found great success in her post-graduate career. She founded nonprofit Second Thought Theatre in Dallas after she graduated and went on to train at Second City, an improvisational acting school in Chicago. After continuing to build her skills, Tolman landed a starring role in the hit TV show “Fargo,” which earned her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations.

Tolman attributed the success of the theater department to its leaders, who ensure that support and goodwill are always maintained among their students.

“A lot of it comes from the way that we were taught to support each other and the way we were supported by our professors and directors,” Tolman said. “It didn’t foster a spirit of competition amongst us.”

The department not only trains young actors in technical skills, but prepares them to interact with others in the field. Tolman said this has resulted in unbreakable friendships that have lasted through the years and across hundreds of miles. The theater department has created an incredibly close group of talented individuals living 1,200 miles away, who still Sic’ em in front of the Baylor football big screen.

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