The Dart: Natchezian finds his mission in feeding people
Published 5:31 am Sunday, December 5, 2021
NATCHEZ — Natchezian Anthony “Scoop” White stepped out of his food truck Wangz and Thangz on Martin Luther King Jr. Road where The Dart landed with a grin on his face.
White graduated from Natchez High School in 2003, and after a brief stint in college decided that wasn’t for him. His father, Johnny White Sr., told him he could quit college when he found a job. In his dorm room, he received a call telling him he had been hired for an off-shore oil job working on a line boat.
He left for five years before coming home to work as a correctional officer for 10 years. It was working at a prison where he learned a lot of lessons, he said.
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“I was troubled at an early age, but I was blessed enough where I never got a felony charge,” White said. “A convict in the prison I worked at told me this. ‘When you come in and you are doing life, you aren’t a convict until you have 20 years under your belt.’ He said, ‘this is no place for you.’ It stuck with me. I thought there must be a reason God sent me here. I felt there was a reason He put me in that position, like He was saying ‘I spared you, go do my work.’”
White set out to God’s work through cooking, a passion he learned from his father. Johnny White Sr. was a chef before he went to work at the International Paper Company.
Each day, Anthony would take care of the family’s horses before he walked to the school bus stop. When he came home, he had to cook dinner by the time his father got in. Dinner was at 10 p.m., he said.
A year ago, he purchased a food truck trailer and began getting it ready to feed people in the local community. He is grateful to Ricky Gray, who owns a nearby business and provided the location for the food truck, for his mentorship and welcoming him with open arms.
Hot Wangz and Thangz has a wide variety of food from Funnel Cakes to deep Fried Oreos, to hamburgers and hot wings with more than 20 different sauces.
“I fell in love with cooking and it became a passion of mine. I’m not here for the money, but I like to see the smile on people’s faces when they see our burgers,” Anthony said. “There is nowhere in this area to get a good home-style cheeseburger. We are bringing this to feed the locals.”
About two years ago, White said he struggled with his personal identity. People told him he was too soft and open hearted and he needed to toughen up, he said. Instead, he thought about giving love to the community by feeding them.
Ultimately, he would like to grow the food truck business by adding a bigger truck. Another goal of his is to create jobs to give young kids in Natchez something to do because he is concerned about them turning to violence.
Leaving college was a mistake, he said. Now, he explains the importance of education to his son Jai’Marion White, who is 9.
“My son is smarter than his daddy and I thank God for that,” he said.
They have a close bond. Usually, they spend their time together watching sports or going bowling. Anthony said he wears two of his most-prized possessions. A medallion hangs around his neck on a necklace. It was a gift from his fiancé Martha White and his son Jai’Marion. On his left middle finger is a golden ring which belonged to his father.
“I’m a big giver. I don’t receive much, so my family got together and got me this medallion,” Anthony said. “It says on it ‘I hope you believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. To my King, never forget I love you forever.’ Every day I pray over it. Every day I kiss my father’s ring and kiss this medallion and I thank God.”
It was his prayer to God to open the food truck and now it is a family venture. The food truck is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Sunday.
“If you don’t have any money and you are hungry and honest, I will feed you,” he said.