Waco, TX  (Nov. 23, 23)—In light of the challenges presented by increasing food costs, The Salvation Army of McLennan County is helping by offering Thanksgiving meals to anyone in need. “Rising food costs have created challenges for many people in our community,” said Major James Taylor, leader of The Salvation Army of McLennan County.  “Anyone needing food this Thanksgiving is invited to get a hot Thanksgiving meal.” 

Community Meal:  The Salvation Army hosts a Thanksgiving meal at the Community Kitchen to share the season’s spirit.  This will be the 132nd year to serve a Thanksgiving meal in  Waco Texas. 
Date: Thursday, November 23, 2023
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Location: 300 Webster Avenue, Waco TX, 76706

How to Get Help:
If you need a Thanksgiving meal, please join us at 300 Webster Avenue on Thursday, November 23, 2023 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. 

Volunteer Opportunities:
We are looking for volunteers to support this event. To volunteer, please sign up online at The Salvation Army Waco/McLennan County – Volunteer Console (  or contact our Volunteer Coordinator at 254.756.7271.  We are also asking for pies and cookies and cakes from the community for the event.

Your support and generosity will help ensure that everyone in our community can enjoy a warm Thanksgiving meal during this season of gratitude. Donate by visiting our offices at 4721 W. Waco Drive or by mailing a check to 4721 W. Waco Drive, Waco, TX 76710.  Please note “Thanksgiving Meals” on the check memo line. Thank you for your kindness and community spirit.  Pies, cookies and cakes are need too!

For additional information, please contact 254.756.7271 M-F 8-5 or visit Facebook to see the event.


About The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army, an evangelical part of the universal Christian church established in London in 1865, has been supporting those in need in His name without discrimination for more than 130 years in the United States. Nearly 30 million Americans receive assistance from The Salvation Army each year through the broadest array of social services that range from providing food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, outreach to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless and opportunities for underprivileged children. 82 cents of every dollar The Salvation Army spends is used to support those services in 5,000 communities nationwide. For more information, go to

WFM lunch for people experiencing homelessness kicks off National Health Center Week

On Monday afternoon, Waco Family Medicine (WFM) hosted “Flavor Feast,” a free lunch at the Meyer Center for community members experiencing homelessness. The event included a meal provided by Part Time Chef and a cooling station for attendees.

The event kicked off WFM’s recognition of National Health Center Week (NHCW). NHCW is an annual observance sponsored by the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) running from Aug. 6 to 12. It aims to raise awareness and honor the contributions of Community Health Centers (CHCs) like WFM that provide comprehensive healthcare services to millions of patients across the U.S.  

WFM’s NHCW programming includes People Experiencing Homelessness Day (Monday), Patient Appreciation Day (Wednesday), and Health Center Staff Appreciation Day (Friday). Patients and staff will be recognized with tokens of appreciation later in the week. 

Each year for NHCW, WFM hosts Healthcare for People Experiencing Homelessness Day to highlight and expand the care provided to community members experiencing homelessness in Central Texas. People who experience homelessness endure higher rates of chronic and acute disease, behavioral health conditions, and other needs that are connected to poorer health outcomes, disability, and early death. Located downtown in the same building as Mission Waco’s Meyer Center, Waco Family Medicine – Meyer Center treats more patients experiencing homelessness than most other locations in the clinic system.

In 2022, WFM provided more than 61,000 patients with integrated medical, dental, and behavioral health care across 15 clinical sites. WFM addresses social and environmental barriers to wellness through innovative programs and community partnerships. Additionally, an in-house pharmacy provides quickly filled prescriptions to patients at a fraction of traditional costs. 

With a quarter-million patient visits annually, the WFM system cares for one-fifth of McLennan County’s population. Ninety percent of county residents live within 10 miles of a WFM location, making care more accessible to patients, especially those with limited transportation. In 2021, about 74% of WFM patients identified as a racial or ethnic minority, and 22% were best served in a language other than English. The organization strives to provide high-quality, equitable care to meet the medical needs of Central Texans. 

WFM invites community members, partners, and supporters to follow the organization on Facebook and Instagram (@wacofamilymedicine) to learn more about the social and economic contributions of CHCs throughout NHCW.


Waco Family Medicine is a Federally Qualified Health Center providing medical, dental, behavioral health, and community health care at 15 locations across McLennan and Bell counties. The nonprofit also provides graduate medical education through Waco Family Medicine – Institute and serves as a clinical training site for medical residency students, dental students, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical social workers, pharmacy students, medical technicians, and allied health caregivers. WFM was established in 1970 to address a shortage of doctors, lack of access to primary healthcare, and economic development issues.


This food-focused holiday is among the few with roots in charitable service.

National Donut Day calligraphy lettering and doughnut isolated on white . Vector template for typography poster, banner, flyer, sticker, t-shirt, postcard, emblem design, etc.

Waco, TX  June 2, 2023  On the first Friday in June, Americans celebrate all the gooey goodness of donuts. But many don’t know that National Donut Day has its roots in doing good. This sweet tradition dates back to World War I, when nearly 250 Salvation Army volunteers known as “Donut Lassies” traveled overseas to provide emotional and spiritual support and fried confections, supplies, and other services to troops on the front lines.

The Donut Lassies fried donuts in small pans and are credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when troops returned home from war. The Salvation Army in Chicago celebrated the first National Donut Day in 1938 to help those in need during the Great Depression and commemorate the Donut Lassies’ work.

For over a century, the organization has provided a wide range of essential services like food, shelter, and emotional and spiritual support to the most vulnerable and to many of the men and women serving on the front lines of need.

“This National Donut Day, as citizens of Waco celebrate with a sweet treat, we are proud to remember that this fun tradition started with our volunteers over a hundred years ago,” said Major Jim Taylor. “If you ask me, knowing that the day has its roots in the fight for good makes those glazed pastries taste even sweeter.”

To honor the history of Donut Day, The Salvation Army of Waco will celebrate by spending the day dropping off donuts to First Responders who fight the battle here at home.  A “Donut Lassie” will be handing out donuts to over 100 veterans at the VA hospital.  Another “Donut Lassie” will be at the HEB on Valley Mills to greet and meet guests as we partner with them statewide to celebrate this day.  HEB donated a portion of the donuts for the day and will be giving back 2% of all donut sales for the week (not prepackaged boxes) to The Salvation Army Waco.  Shipley’s makes over 20 dozen donuts for delivery as well.  

The best way to participate with The Salvation Army Waco is by volunteering either at the Family Store or the Community Kitchen and during the Holidays when Bell Ringing Season is here.   Volunteer activities are posted at:  The Salvation Army Waco/McLennan County – Volunteer Console (  You can also support the Salvation Army financially by giving online at Donate to TSA Waco General Donation Page (

For more information about The Salvation Army of Waco, please visit our website at:  or call 254.756.7271 or email [email protected]

Waco helping clean up dining adventures

By Ferrell Foster

Fifteen months into my life as a Waco resident, I’ve discovered something new — local restaurant food inspection scores. It’s on the City of Waco website.

KWTX channel 10 reports area restaurant inspection scores.

I ran across this when I saw a story about the scores on KWTX channel 10’s website. I do not totally understand why the scores in the KWTX report do not match up with scores on the city site for the same restaurant; I suspect it has something to do with the reporting day.

When it comes to restaurant scores, lower is better. On the city site there are many zeros (hooray!) and the vast majority have scores in the single digits (more subdued celebration).

The channel 10 report highlighted two Greater Waco scores of 90. Yikes! And the losers are: Burger King #3714 at 103 East Loop 340 in Lacy Lakeview and Cracker Barrel #166 at 4275 North IH-35 in Lacy Lakeview.

Wouldn’t it be nice if restaurants had to to post, in 12-inch lettering on their doors, their most recent score. You’re walking up to your favorite place, which has always in the past had a big “0” on its door, to find a “75.” Whoa! Better think before you open the door and spend your money. Thoughts: There is a new manager. Last time I was here the mashed potatoes didn’t seem right.

Well, restaurants do not have to post their numbers, but we can look them up online, so that’s pretty cool. (Of course, some people do not have Internet access, so they are at a disadvantage in getting this info. Inequities are real.)

I liked that channel 10, after outing the bad players, presented this week’s Clean Plate Award winner — Mamaka Bowls at 215 South University Parks Dr. in Waco, “which obviously got a perfect food inspection score.”

Mamaka’s has endless combinations, the TV station reports. “There are specialty ingredients such as almond butter, cacao nibs, coconut shreds, and spirulina, which is basically blue-green algae. Of course, if you like it plain and simple, items like The Mac with mango, strawberry, pineapple, orange juice, topped with the fruit and a little homemade granola could treat your taste buds right.”

Publicly posted restaurant inspection scores protect all of us from bad players and helps us find the good ones. There simply is no go way for consumers to know what’s going on in the kitchen without such scores. You can get some clues about the cleanliness of a restaurant from how it cares for it’s dining area and, especially, its restrooms. (I have a desire to visit a restroom before I order. Sometimes I regret I went after eating.)

Food is important. A big tip of the hat to the many, many restaurants who are working hard to keep it clean. We need to honor them with our dollars. There are options; we don’t have to do business with dirty eateries. Of course, I wish they would all earn a zero. That would be better for everyone.

Ferrell Foster is acting executive director of Act Locally Waco and senior content specialist for care and communication with Prosper Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Local restaurant owners harvesting hope

By Maddie McNamee

If you’ve ever been asked about the best brunch spot in Waco, odds are you’ve probably recommended a local treasure called Harvest on 25th. The restaurant, which was born out of a passion for wholesome food and a desire to host good community and culture didn’t exactly start off as a restaurant. In fact, it started off with Juanita Barrientos selling food out of a small kitchen using the produce from Toby Tull’s family farm. 

Toby Tull and Juanita Barrientos

These future business partners had no idea they would soon open a wildly popular restaurant when they first made this arrangement, but when Tull tried some of the food that Barrientos was creating, the idea for Harvest on 25th was born. 

In November 2018 Harvest on 25th opened its doors, and this nutritious and delicious restaurant has been a go-to for Wacoans ever since. Cozy on the inside and sleek on the outside, the restaurant itself matches the food they serve —traditional breakfast and lunch staples with a healthy and unique spin. 

The eatery has been popular among Baylor students and locals alike for a little over three years now, with people like Emily Hoppie, a recent Baylor graduate, praising her favorite brunch spot, saying: “I love the atmosphere at Harvest on 25th. The people are so kind, the food is always amazing, and the restaurant itself is adorable.” 

It was Emily and the many like her that felt the devastation right along with the owners and employees of Harvest on 25th after learning the news of an electrical fire that broke out at the end of April, destroying the kitchen and entryway. 

In the immediate aftermath, the future of the little restaurant that was loved by so many looked unclear. Co-owner Juanita Barrientos said: “The first thought for me was my employees and the devastation they were feeling. Our team is very much a family. We have all worked tremendously hard just to see it in flames. It was tragic. Especially coming out of the pandemic.”

In an effort to keep her and co-owner Tull’s dream going, the pair started a GoFundMe in hopes of raising enough money to cover the cost of damages. What they didn’t expect was to immediately raise $20,000 — a testament to the support locals have to the place serving food not only good for the body, but good for the soul. 

Barrientos touched on her overwhelming appreciation, stating: “The response to the GoFundMe was an amazing surprise. I underestimated how special Harvest on 25th is to this community, and what a positive impact it makes on people’s lives. The love and support was overwhelming and humbling. We are incredibly thankful.” 

On top of the financial support from the community, other local businesses around Waco stepped up to support in other ways. An outpouring of messages flooded the comments section of the post that announced the fire on Instagram. 

Businesses such as Fabled Bookshop, Milk Bottle Cookies, Oh My Juice, and the Sweet Station were just a few that shared their sympathy and well wishes with the restaurant. Restaurants such as Revival Eastside Eatery, Milo, Dichotomy, Sloanes, Pinewood, Waco Axe, and Southern Roots Brewing Co. have even been so generous, with a few offering space for pop-up dinners and some even dedicating a portion of their sales to raise money for the business. 

Currently, Harvest on 25th is operating out of a commissary kitchen that generously offered the space to serve food out of. Barrientos and Tull are grateful to be able to keep their business running and keep their staff employed, but with the end of the pandemic in sight, convincing people to order take out has proven difficult. 

Barrientos humbly touched on this challenge, stating: “The only difficulty has been that we are a little off the beaten path for most people, so it’s easy to forget where we are. Also, people are dining more these days, so it’s a little difficult to promote takeout while the momentum is in the opposite direction after the pandemic — and understandably so!” 

Despite these difficulties, the future of Harvest on 25th is bright, with plans to reopen at the end of July. These owners are so grateful to Waco for their support and are ready to be back serving the community in a little over a month. 

In the meantime, those who are missing those delicious pancakes or mouthwatering breakfast tacos, don’t fret! Wednesday through Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. you can still pick up all of your favorites at 1523 Herring Ave. if you order online, and you can even attend a farm to table dinner at Milo June 22. Thank you, Wacotown for supporting local businesses.

Maddie McNamee is a creative writing intern with Act Locally Waco. She is a student-athlete at Baylor University and is pursuing a major in Professional Writing and Rhetoric. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Vegetable of the month: Bell Peppers

By Lindsey Breunig-Rodriguez

It has been several months since I last wrote an article for Act Locally Waco. I am happy to be back and ready to continue featuring different fruits and vegetables each month. 

Bell peppers might be one of my favorite vegetables (be warned I will say this for four or five other veggies) due to their versatility, bright colors, and packed flavors.  If you enjoy gardening, bell peppers are at the start of their season, (summer and fall) so be on the lookout for great deals at the grocery store or farmers market because buying vegetables in-season results in a fresher, tastier, and a lowest cost product. 


Per USDA dietary guidelines it is recommended we consume 3 cups of vegetables daily. Vegetables may be fresh, canned, frozen, or dried, and may be whole, cut-up, or pureed; it all counts. For bell peppers (all colors), a 1 cup serving is equal to 1 cup of chopped, raw, or cooked pepper or 1 large pepper (3″ diameter, 3¾” long). One small pepper is equal to ½ cup. 

Bell peppers are a great source of Vitamin C, which keeps our immune system strong and helps our bodies heal quickly. Red bell peppers are higher in both Vitamin C and A compared to green bell peppers. Additionally, bell peppers are fat free, saturated-fat free, sodium free, cholesterol free, and low in calories. 

Shopping, Storage, and Preparation: 

In the summer we might see deals on fresh bell peppers, but we can also enjoy them in other forms like frozen and canned for good nutrition and convenience. If selecting fresh, choose firm, brightly colored peppers with tight skin that are heavy for their size. Avoid dull, shriveled, or bumpy peppers. Store fresh in the refrigerator for up to five days. 

The skin of a bell pepper is fairly soft so little pressure is needed when cutting. This may be a great veggie to cut with children who want to work on knife skills; however, the shape can be intimidating. University of Maryland’s Extension program created a quick video on how to buy, store, and prepare bell peppers, watch here


Bell peppers are a staple in a variety of ethnic cuisines, including Asian (Chinese, Japanese, Korean), African, Latino, and Mediterranean. Enjoy bell peppers in a variety of different ways:

  • Raw: A tasty addition for a veggie tray and are delicious with many kinds of dip or for extra crunch add to sandwiches and wraps. 
  • Grilled/Roasted/Sauteed: Indoor or outdoor, peppers will taste great with simply some oil and salt or other seasoning. A great addition to pasta sauce, a pizza topping, breakfast eggs, soups, or chili. 
  • Stuffed: Stuff with whatever you have available at home. A mixture of beans/meat, brown rice/grains, veggies, and spices can go such a long way and has endless combinations. Stuff the pepper and bake! 
  • Added to salads and casseroles. 

Check out these other tasty recipes too: Simple Stuffed Peppers (a household favorite!), BBQ Chicken Pizza, and Mac and Beans Medley

I hope you enjoy!

USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — SNAP. To learn more about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or to apply for benefits, visit

Lindsey Breunig-Rodriguez is an Extension Agent for the Better Living for Texans program with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. She is originally from Grapevine but now calls Waco home. A graduate from Baylor University, she loves to venture out to Cameron Park, visit the local Farmers Market, and try out the awesome eateries in Waco. If you see her and hear a loud bark, that’s her pup Lucy Ann just saying hello.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

Waffle Chic’s Evans: ‘Waco is a wonderful, awesome community of outstanding people.’

In honor of Black History Month, we are featuring interviews with local Black community leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media. The students asked questions about what the leaders love about Waco, and we are excited to share their responses with you this month.

By Skylla Mumana

For many new to the area, and even some long-term residents, navigating the city may prove difficult and finding things to do may seem even harder. However, local figures such as 38-year-old Shamica Evans are proving that the city has so much to offer. 

Shamica Evans

Evans is founder of Waffle Chic, a local food truck. There, she works to deliver classic Southern comfort food for the Waco public to enjoy. Her goal is to create community, which she continuously strives for by serving up fresh, mindful ingredients with a smile. She came up with the idea of her truck from her own personal experiences with single-motherhood.

“The name Waffle Chic originates from me being a single-parent with my kids,” she said. “The waffle is kind of like the mom, and the chicken is the chicks, my little chicks.” 

By selling chicken and waffles, Evans wanted to bring a fresh, new perspective to the food truck scene in Waco and expose the public to good, Southern cooking on the go. Inclusivity is a staple in her kitchen, and she strives to accommodate the needs of her customers every chance she gets.

“It’s healthier for those that are healthier, it’s still Southern for those that like Southern because I’m still using all the Southern spices. Kids can eat it, and older people can eat it, too,” Evans said. 

To Evans, Waco is a booming city that has room for both big and small businesses. She also thinks Waco continuously fosters a wholesome sense of community that rivals small towns. Growth and connection are two factors that help drive the Waco community and lead to what she describes as outstanding community building. 

“I don’t feel like we’re in competition. I just feel like we’re all growing with each other,” she said. “We’re a village here in Waco, and we’ve got plenty of giants who are willing to build empires and kingdoms with each other.” 

Evans is heavily involved in programs and organizations within the Waco area, such as Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Hewitt Chamber of Commerce. All of these organizations were instrumental in helping Waffle Chic get its start. Not only that, but Evans is also known to actively help out the homeless. Fueled by her faith and background, she hopes to give back to a community that gave so much to her. 

“They’re really the ones experiencing hardship,” Evans said. “I just see them as family as well, and still to this day each of them will come to my truck, and they’ll come to just say hello.” 

When it comes to describing how special Waco is, Evans had her own acronym to share.

“I could give Waco four words or phrases just by using the letters in its own name,” she said. “Waco is a wonderful, awesome community of outstanding people.”

By connecting food and community, Evans proves that not only does Waco have a variety of eateries to choose from, but it also is a city that is filled with people who inspire and prosper. 

“I’ve lived here in Waco my whole life,” Evans said. “I don’t see myself living anywhere else.”

Skylla Mumana is a freshman journalism major at Baylor University from San Antonio. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

‘Blasian’ family brings Cambodian food to Waco

In honor of Black History Month, we are featuring interviews with local Black community leaders. These pieces were written by Baylor University students from the Department of Journalism, Public Relations, and New Media. The students asked questions about what the leaders love about Waco, and we are excited to share their responses with you this month.

By Gi’erra Cottingham

Time does not always permit us to book a flight, pack a bag, and travel to experience foods around the world, but sometimes it comes to us. Two community leaders have brought Cambodian food to the heart of Waco. In 2016, Chevy and Mike DuBose introduced The Blasian Asian, an authentic Cambodian cuisine, in Union Hall. 

Mike and Chevy DuBose (right), with their, daughter Arianna, are with two of their employees, Aaron and Geneva.

“The menu is 100% Cambodian food,” Mike said. The word Blasian comes from the combination of their race and ethnicity. Mike is Black, and Chevy is Cambodian. “Our baby is a combination of Black and Asian,” DuBose said — Blasian.

“Mrs. DuBose and I lived in Seattle for about 20 years where I was an aeronautical engineer, and she did aerospace repair. I accepted a job promotion in Waco, but when we got here, she was really craving Cambodian food,” Mike said. “Eventually, she started cooking for me. I’d share the food with my staff, and they highly encouraged her to invest in a food truck. Our business took off from there. We’ve now migrated from the food trailer of three years to a restaurant in Union Hall that we began in March” last year.

The couple’s determination to fulfill their mission in sharing what they love with the Waco community is appreciated among local Waconians. The Blasian Asian was voted “Best Food Truck 2019” and “Best Asian Food 2020.”

“My personal favorite dish is the garlic fried rice. There are two popular dishes on our menu: the garlic fried rice and the Blasian itself,” Mike said. “The Blasian has a large variety that includes chicken, beef, pork, noodles, and egg rolls, while the garlic fried rice has been voted the best in Waco. Most customers have commented that they were obligated to use soy sauce at other restaurants to increase the flavor and didn’t need it for ours.”

Due to the couple’s community involvement and leadership duties, Chevy’s availability to consistently cook in the kitchen is slim. She oversees the quality of the food as she’s the only one who knows each Cambodian dish intimately, but most of her time is spent preparing and making sure the food meets her expectations, while The Blasian Asian’s employees are trained to cook and present the dishes. 

“Since we moved to Waco, my wife and I have been a part of community tasks. We are active members of the NAACP Waco chapter where we participate in meetings, functions, and events. We are also members of the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce,” Mike said. 

The Blasian Asian’s owners have persevered during COVID-19 and are hopeful that other small businesses do the same. The couple began their dream from simply sharing Cambodian food with friends and has made it thus far despite setbacks. 

“The advice I would give to small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic is to keep on. This is temporary,” Mike said. “We have a lot of support from the community during this time, but the most important thing to remember is to not give up and find ways to reduce costs without shutting down.”

Gi’erra Cottingham is a freshman at Baylor University, majoring in broadcast journalism. She was born and raised in Houston where she attended Carnegie Vanguard High School. Her hobbies include being outdoors, spending time with family, and writing. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email Ferrell Foster at [email protected].

The Act Locally Waco Thanksgiving Cookbook

Happy Thanksgiving, Waco! A few weeks ago, I put out a call in The Whole Enchilada, asking for people’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes. I wanted to create a blog post that could serve as a community cookbook for Waco. And, boy, did you deliver some fantastic recipes! Read on for three great recipes from your Waco neighbors: a show stopping side, a fun and easy dessert, and a unique twist on Thanksgiving leftovers! Then, click here for a special Act Locally Thanksgiving recipe card you can print off and use to keep these recipes for years to come!

The Recipe: Hasselback Butternut Squash (Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)

This recipe was submitted by Rachel, who has lived in Waco on and off for the past 10 years, and whose favorite Waco spot is Lula Jane’s porch! Rachel made this recipe while celebrating Thanksgiving in the UK and added the serrano pepper and sorghum syrup for a little Southern flair once she returned to Waco.


1 large butternut squash

1 tablespoon olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 serrano chile, thinly sliced

¼ cup pure sorghum syrup

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

6–8 dried bay leaves


Place a rack in the upper third of oven; preheat oven to 425°F. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Using a peeler, remove skin and white flesh below (you should reach the deep orange flesh). Rub all over with oil; season with salt and pepper. Roast in a baking dish just large enough to hold halves side by side until beginning to soften (a paring knife should easily slip in only about ¼”), 15–18 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring chile, sorghum syrup, butter, and vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high, stirring occasionally and removing chile as soon as desired heat level is reached (set aside for serving), until just thick enough to coat spoon, 6–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and keep glaze warm.

Transfer squash to a cutting board and let cool slightly. Using a sharp knife, score rounded sides of squash halves crosswise, going as deep as possible but without cutting all the way through. Return squash to baking dish, scored sides up, and tuck bay leaves between a few of the slices; season with salt and pepper.

Roast squash, basting with glaze every 10 minutes or so and using pastry brush to lift off any glaze in the dish that is browning too much, until tender and glaze forms a rich brown coating, 45–60 minutes. Serve topped with reserved chiles.

The Recipe: Cinnamon Walnut Pecan Pie Bites (From the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service)

This recipe was submitted by Lindsey, who has lived in Waco for 5 years and loves walks along the Brazos River! This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, or even halved, depending on how big or small your Thanksgiving crowd is!


15 mini phyllo shells, frozen

1/4 cup liquid egg substitute

3 tablespoon dark brown sugar

1/2 tablespoon room temperature butter

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1 drop vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon chopped walnuts

2 tablespoon chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine egg substitute, brown sugar, butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt. Mix well.

Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped pecans and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts into mixture. Arrange phyllo shells on baking sheet and distribute the mixture evenly among the shells. Combine remaining nuts and sprinkle them on the top of the shells.

Bake in the oven until edges are crisp, 15-18 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before serving. If you like, top each piece with a squirt of fat free whipped cream topping. Enjoy!

The Recipe: Thanksgiving Leftovers Lasagna

This recipe was submitted by an anonymous Act Locally reader, who has lived in Waco for 49 years and whose favorite Waco spots include Cameron Park and the River Walk at the Waco Suspension Bridge! This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers; feel free to swap any ingredients based on whatever leftovers are in your fridge!


3 cups leftover cornbread stuffing

1 (14-oz.) can whole berry cranberry sauce

1 ¼ lbs cooked turkey breast, sliced into ¼ inch slices

3 cups cooked mashed potatoes

2 cups green beans, corn, or mixed vegetables

6 oz sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 ½ cups)

Gravy, for serving


Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a square baking dish with cooking spray.

Spread half of the stuffing in a layer in bottom of prepared baking dish. Spread half of the cranberry sauce in an even layer over stuffing. Layer half of turkey slices on top of cranberry sauce, then half of vegetable of choice, then spread half of the mashed potatoes on top of vegetables. Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on top of potatoes. Repeat layers once. Bake in preheated oven until lasagna is warmed through, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to broil, and broil until cheese is golden, about 2 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before cutting into squares. Spoon gravy over each square to serve.

Becca Muncy is an Act Locally intern from Dallas. She is studying professional writing at Baylor University and is completing her senior year.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected]for more information.

East Waco Voices: Da Shack Farmer’s Market

By Khristian Howard

East Waco is a source of rich, proud history. Just a mention of revered figures like World War II hero Doris Miller or of Paul Quinn College, the oldest historically black college in Texas, reminds us of the national significance of this part of the Waco community.

What does East Waco have to offer now? There are several gems in the community that continue to sustain the residents, preserve its culture, inspire change, and fuel its heartbeat… but you may have to look for them. One such gem is Da Shack Farmer’s Market. Located in a quaint and quiet part of the neighborhood at 925 Houston Street, “Da Shack” (like the name implies) may not impress you from the outside. However, once you walk through the doors and enter the green oasis that is their garden, you realize it is a hub for nutritious food, education, beauty, and serenity.

Donna Nickerson, a licensed psychotherapist and owner of Da Shack, sat down for a brief interview.  She shared about how the farmer’s market began, and talked about her dreams for benefiting the community.

First, how did they come up with the name?  “I wanted something that was catchy, something that was different. As far as the name, ‘Da Shack’ is not a place where it’s fancy…it’s just simple.” she explained.  “We try to implement simple things – even with gardening. We try to utilize our resources and try to communicate that with the community as well. That way they know you can use what you have. You don’t have to be fancy with things, just use what’s available.”

What should a visitor expect from Da Shack?  For Donna, the most important thing is for customers to leave with an education, even if they do not buy anything. “When they come here, they are going to learn about healthy eating, organic growing, gardening. Our goal is not to just provide healthy organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs…but also to educate them on how to grow and start gardening.” Da Shack is a place where there is something for every potential gardener. For folks who do not want to grow their vegetables from the ground, Donna and the others at Da Shack can give advice and guidance on how to start with pots, vegetable cans, or even in water.

Donna’s passion for educating people on how to improve their health shares roots with her profession as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist. Da Shack provides an avenue for addressing both physical and mental health.  In fact, Da Shack is now offering mental health services to the community. Donna is registered with most insurance agencies and is also providing sliding scale and pro-bono sessions for visitors to learn about behavioral health, managing stress, and more. When asked about why she chose to connect therapy to the farmer’s market, she stated, “Behavioral health is a barrier for a lot of people. If it is not addressed, it creates walls for individuals. Healthy people understand stress and how to cope with it…If you are in good condition physically, you’ll be in good condition emotionally, and vice versa because they work hand-in-hand…not a lot of psychotherapy services are present [in East Waco] and it is a big need.” Furthermore, she wanted “people in the community to come to a place where there is serenity, relaxation, warmth, and resources.”

In recent years, Waco has been a hub for social and economic transformation. Businesses are seeing a new promising market, families are finding supportive communities for their children, and students continue to flood to one of the oldest, most respected universities in the South. The work that Da Shack does in the community could be done downtown or in Woodway or Hewitt, so…why East Waco? When approached with this question, Donna gives a nod to the importance of managing perceptions about the neighborhood. She sees promise in East Waco, she says, and wants Da Shack’s location to be a catalyst for collective impact around healthier living there. “…As long as people continue to develop, as long as people continue to have a positive outlook, there’s really a lot of potential here, it’s just going to take a lot of collaboration. A lot of the key people that are willing to do something really need to be connected.”

Da Shack is a special place for East Wacoans, and for the rest of the city as well. They offer organic products that range from houseplants and outdoor plants, to vegetables and herbs, to instructional sessions about plant benefits and growing.

Beginning February 2nd, they will be accepting SNAP as a way to eliminate any financial barriers for the community – though their products are already priced at a fair rate to ensure affordability. In addition to this, they will soon be implementing smoothies for those who would rather drink their veggies, greenhouse classes and tours for students and non-profits, and monthly donations to families in need in East Waco.

Da Shack Farmer’s Market has taken a creative approach to marrying hobbies with service, nutrition with mental health, and the public sphere with privately-owned business. Ventures like these build on the historic positive energy of East Waco and move the whole community of Waco toward a healthy future.

Khristian Howard is an Atlanta native and a recent graduate of Georgia State University where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. She has a passion for empowering communities through service, and seeks to connect advocacy to creativity. Currently, she is serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA for Texas Hunger Initiative Waco, where her work focuses on fostering collective impact to improve health and eating habits in East Waco. When she is not working, you may find her sharpening her culinary skills or exploring new poetic and artistic pathways.  

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.