> MORE: Mission Waco expects to swim against retail tide with nonprofit grocery store


The nonprofit grocery that store Mission Waco is creating at North 15th Street and Colcord Avenue will open Nov. 21, just three days before Thanksgiving, Jimmy Dorrell, executive director of Mission Waco, announced in an email to supporters Friday.

Dorrell said the Jubilee Food Market will have a “soft opening” that day, giving residents of its North Waco neighborhood the ability to shop at a grocery store near their home and not travel more than 2 miles to the nearest food store, the H-E-B at Park Lake Drive and North 19th Street.

Dorrell also said that after many months, Mission Waco received what he described as an amended grant from Green Mountain Energy’s Sun Club in the amount of $234,000 for the Urban REAP program. Mission Waco will develop a complex next to the Jubilee Food Market with an aquaponics greenhouse for raising produce; solar panels; a composting system; a rainwater collection and water purification system; areas for food growing; and a small training room for school groups.

Plants and fish raised with the system will be sold in Jubilee Food Market, across 15th Street from other Mission Waco facilities.

“Mission Waco will have to provide about $96,000 in additional funds for the project,” Dorrell said. “Some of those dollars will come from the Seth Dorrell Memorial Fund, but we will still have to raise more for unfunded needs of the project. Since their initial email announcement was a simple, ‘Congratulations,’ there is more news to come.”

Dorrell’s son, Seth, died at age 32 of a heart attack while on a mission trip to Mexico in 2013.

Using donations that have poured in from around the country, Mission Waco is spending nearly $500,000 to convert an old Safeway building into a store to serve a food desert in North Waco, where many residents rely on convenience stores to meet their grocery needs, paying higher prices for a more limited selection than they would have at full-service grocery stores.

Crucial donations

The effort has benefited from donations of freezers, air-conditioning units and other equipment, as well as labor and expertise, Dorrell has said. He has estimated he will spend $75,000 or more to stock the store with merchandise that Jubilee will sell as inexpensively as possible.

It will focus on the sale of edible items, but shoppers also will find paper goods, diapers, batteries and about a dozen other nonfood products.

“We are working on deals with food suppliers, including larger ones out of Houston and Brenham and several smaller ones who provide limited items,” Dorrell said recently. “We’re getting inquiries from people who want to make livestock available to us, including a woman who raises grass-fed beef and likes to keep it hanging in coolers for 30 days, which she said improves the finished product. We won’t be able to sell that a whole lot cheaper than others might because it represents higher quality.”

Anyone may shop at Jubilee, but people who live in area codes nearest the store will receive additional discounts.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, stars of the hit show “Fixer Upper” on HGTV and owners of Magnolia Market at the Silos, contributed $51,000 to the cause, which was raised by an auction of contents of the historic Elite Cafe on Waco’s traffic circle.

The Gaineses bought the iconic eating establishment shortly after it closed for business earlier this year.

They plan to open a restaurant there and have submitted documents on its renovation to the Texas Historical Commission.

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