Cuevas Peacock, Assistant Director of Community Relations - Cultural Wealth
You are what you eat. The age-old saying is rooted in the belief that to be healthy, you have to eat healthy. From your ability to perform academically to maintaining positive relationships to mental health, one's diet significantly impacts their overall wellbeing in countless ways. Unfortunately, 37.2 million of our fellow Americans live in homes that are deemed as food insecure by the USDA. Food insecure means that they are unsure of where their meal will come from. In addition, they have little-to-no access to nutritious food and are likely to have unbalanced diets and skip meals. Food insecure homes are found to be most prevalent in areas deemed as food deserts. Food deserts are defined as areas with high rates of poverty and low rates of access to a grocery store, where residents are capable of purchasing nutritious food.
The problem of food insecurity is that food deserts show up in many areas of our community. Fortunately, due to the efforts of the Mission Waco sponsored Jubilee Market, the North Waco neighborhood is one less community of residents with limited access to healthy meals. For the few people who are not familiar with the works of Mission Waco, they are an empowerment-based Christian community development ministry that has 15 programs that address systemic issues that affect Waco's poor population. In reaching out to Mission Waco Founder Jimmy Dorrell to learn more about the origins of the Jubilee Food Market he shares, "that what was once a Safeway Grocery Store in the 1930s in the thriving North Waco neighborhood closed its doors as poverty encroached on the area. with the closing of Safeway, many residents did not have transportation to the nearest "real" grocery store located 2.2 miles away. The area became a food desert with no access to healthy and affordable foods, like vegetables, fruits, and fresh meat. After a portion of the roof collapsed in 2014, the owners agreed to sell the building to Mission Waco. Once purchased, we invited the neighborhood to gather and explore their wishes for the facility. Sixty-five residents voted for a small grocery store."
Opening a grocery store is no small feat, and took months of advising and fundraising for renovations before the non-profit grocery store was opened in November of 2016. Jubilee Market truly exemplifies the meaning of a Solid Gold Neighbor as they chose to not merely work on but work with the members of the North Waco community. Jimmy Dorrell shared, "This effort produced incredible joy because of the response of the whole community. The store is clean and pretty. Healthy food at market prices has made the store a popular place to shop. Our "Oasis Card" has allowed neighbors within one-mile of the store to receive $5 back each time they spend $25. The store has also held cooking classes, two health fairs, and holiday opportunities to promote healthy lifestyles. No lottery tickets, alcohol, or tobacco products are sold."
The success of Jubilee Market attracts community leaders from across the state to explore the store as a potential model for addressing their food desert issues. However, the ongoing sustainability of the market lies with all of us including, Waco, Baylor, McLennan County, thus we encourage you to shop at Jubilee Market to experience firsthand the impact this Solid Gold Neighbor is having in improving the health of our community.
Jubilee Market is located at 1505 North 5th Street. Swing by this location, it’s something you won’t want to miss.