Waco’s World Hunger Relief, Inc: Nurturing People, Community, and the Land for 40 Years
By Joel H. Scott, Ph.D.
With a rich history of critically considering how faith informs hunger alleviation while nurturing people, the land, and community, World Hunger Relief, Inc, (WHRI) is a robust, life-giving organization. As the new Director of Development & Outreach, it’s my privilege to share with Act Locally Waco followers about one of the more unique not-for-profits in the United States.
So what’s WHRI? (affectionately know as “the Farm”)
WHRI is a faith-based organization committed to the alleviation of hunger both locally and around the world.
For 40 years WHRI has been training individuals in holistic ministry that equips for work with communities in developing sustainable agriculture, motivating individuals and communities to live sustainably and advocate on behalf of the poor, and partnering with like-minded organizations to address hunger related issues facing our local and global communities.
Where is it?
Our Physical Address is 356 Spring Lake Rd Waco, TX 76705. We are located on 40 acres just north of Waco off Hwy 77 (From I-35 Exit 342B).
So what does this training, motivating, and partnering really mean for Waco today? (Read on! The following is a snapshot of our mission in action)
Training: WHRI has individuals from all over the world who serve as interns or live-in volunteers for 13 months and train in sustainable agriculture, spiritual development, and community engagement. WHRI has trained more than 350 interns working in 20 countries spanning 4 continents. Interns work for various domestic international organizations promoting sustainable food production and economic development. Many graduate and work for agencies in our greater Waco community such as intern Bethel Erickson-Bruce who pioneered the widely popular Waco Downtown Farmers Market in 2011.
Currents interns represent several U.S. states and South Africa. This fall interns will be coming to train at the Farm from our international partnerships in Liberia and El Salvador.
Motivating/Educating: Each year, dozens of local organizations and faith communities (all ages) come to the Farm to wrestle with issues of food insecurity, corruption, and unequal distribution through our “Living on the Other Side” (LOTOS) experiential education exercises. Groups are empowered to consider responsible ways to alleviate modern day issues such as food deserts in their own communities.
The Veggie Van: WHRI’s mobile food source, launched in 2014 to provide high quality, affordable vegetables in identified food deserts in Waco. In that time, WHRI has built relationships in the local food system (i.e. the farmer’s market vendors, other non-profits, local businesses, government officials, etc.) to reach some of the most vulnerable populations in Waco—senior citizens, the working poor, children from generational poverty and those living in underserved neighborhoods. The Veggie Van also serves as mobile educational tool for promoting awareness of local food deserts.
Farm Camp: During the summer, WHRI introduces Waco area children to the wonders of simple living, sustainable agriculture. Through this camp, children get to try new foods – picked fresh and warmed by the summer sun – and create a new relationship with food and the land. For more information about next year’s camp, please check out our website after February 1, 2017.
Guided Educational Tours: Over 1,300 folks visited the Farm last year on tours. WHRI has tours tailored to meet a variety of interests. We customize farm visits to fit curriculum, TEKS requirements, or learning objectives of any age or grade. We encourage visitors to consult the staff at WHRI before your visit and plan your farm experience; this can include service projects, meaningful work experiences, and pre/post-visit interactions.
Partnering: WHRI’s School Gardening Program partners with Waco ISD and local organizations in developing healthy, sustainable communities through the education and exploration in our school gardens. Currently school gardens are located at J.H. Hines Elementary, Indian Springs Middle School and G.W. Carver Middle School. We also support the Heart of Texas Urban Garden Coalition (HOT UGC) in many community wide initiatives.
Executive Director Matt Hess serves as co-chair of Live Well Waco the Healthy Eating Healthy living arm of Prosper Waco. This group has a focus on reducing obesity in McLennan County. The group is developing a Healthy Eating Active Living Plan; managing a grant from the USDA aimed at increasing awareness of healthy eating opportunities in Waco such as the Veggie Van, the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, and community gardens; and has recently been accepted as a finalist in the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge.
WHRI is widely known and respected for its stewardship of partnerships and relationships. We take seriously the call to join like-minded forces through consultation and collaborative endeavors, rather than competing or duplicating work.
If I want to begin a relationship with World Hunger Relief and become a “Friend of the Farm” what’s a good first step?
- Email [email protected] or call World Hunger Relief’s main office (254)-799-5611and request a guided tour of the Farm.
- Stop by our Veggie Van during the week and at the Downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.
- Visit our website at http://worldhungerrelief.org/ and request our Newsletters and Farm Notes.
- Like and Follow us on Facebook @whriwaco and share with your network.
- Purchase a fall dinner ticket and join us for “A Night on the Farm” Dinner & Celebration on Oct. 21st or 22nd. Tickets will be available here October 1st.
- Organize a group to experience our LOTOS or service learning programs offered year-round.Email our Local Education team to schedule service learning opportunities: [email protected]
- Come out and experience our infamous Spring Farm Day in April 7th, 2017.
- Email Joel Scott @ [email protected] He’d love to meet with you for coffee and discuss all things Farm.
- If you are already a supporter of the Farm, we are currently in a Match Month. The JES Foundation is doubling every dollar given up to $40,000 through Oct 1st. You can give directly online through our website http://worldhungerrelief.org/donate/
We’re grateful for WHRI’s legacy of stewardship, and our robust base of volunteers and supporters who share their talents, time and treasures. As the Farm strategically considers the next 40 years of mission-centric work, we look forward to forging new relationships, partnerships, and approaches to more faithfully address how we nurture people, the land, and community.
Joel Scott is the new Director of Development & Outreach at World Hunger Relief, Inc. He recently served on faculty at Boston University and worked in higher education administration, capacity consulting, and leadership for the past 15 years. His primary scholarship involves community-university engagement and service-learning. Joel is looking forward to fall backyard barbeques, driveway basketball, and living a more integrative life.
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.