We recently completed and released an article featuring 5 different Food Trucks that worked with Charity in one way or another (see it Here). Doing the research for this, and the following interviews, what a bit challenging to say the least, but also rewarding when we were able to finally get some of these owners down to talk about some of the amazing things they helped with. During which, we stumbled onto the existence of a whole group of truck owners in the Orlando area called “Food Trucks for Families,” a pack of 20-or-so vendors that hold their own monthly rallies and events to which they apply the profits to a deserving local charity or family.
With great luck, we were able to get in contact with and schedule an interview with Craig from Firehouse BBQ Truck, one of the main directors for Food Trucks for Families. He was able to enlighten us on how the whole group started, what exactly it is they do, and how the charity operates.
Question: Let’s start off with how Food Trucks for Families got started, and what it is you do.
Craig: Well FTF started off 2 years ago in Orlando, and it was based off the food trucks wanting to get back to the community, there was some issues some of the promoters making money and dishonesty. So the food trucks kinda bonded together and started an event called Food Trucks for Family. And what they’d do is the trucks would go out into the city, and find an aid or family in need, and then all the trucks would give 10% of their sales, just like they would with a promoter. So instead of a promoter making money, that money would get to those truly in need in that area.
Q: What charities and causes does FTF focus on helping?
Craig: We focus on as individual aid as can get, which are children a lot of times, or sometimes adults, but we also do neighborhood centers, local churches that we help out, we’ve done schools… there’s a variety of different charities out there. So that’s what we try to do, we try to find somewhere the money will go and help. And it’s not always one individual, like we’d like to, we did one a couple weeks ago for the neighborhood center, where we were giving away food for 400 people as a thank you, you know, for the city and giving back to the community.
Q: From what I can tell, you’re usually able to get a few events scheduled a month for caterings, how do these usually get put together?
Craig: There’s a lot of people that contact us, especially schools and something like that, they contact us and then we have a band of 20 trucks that are the top trucks in the Orlando area, and then we put the email out to them, and it’s like a first come-first serve. And the food trucks are making a lot of money for the event, except instead of having a promoter that’s making money, it’s actually just going to the family or organization that’s backing the event.
Q: What can others do to help create more of these catering events in the future?
Craig: There’s always a need, there’s never gonna be NOT a need of some place or somebody that needs your help in the community. There’s always something out there that’s going to continue, we just saw the food truck industry changed five or so years ago, a hundred or so trucks now, so we thought “Well, the promoters are making money, not giving back any of it to the community, events still need the trucks.” Now, do we need a promoter? Some events might, some might not, so we can do it and put it on the calendar.
Q: You guys have been able to gather quite a local lineup of trucks to help the cause, how exactly did that come about?
Craig: What happens is the food truck industry has changed, the promoters have gotten greedy, they always get their certain trucks they like at events and it’s just not a fair system. So we really felt like the people who started these events, we started to grow, and we are really truly passionate about what we’re doing, so what we’ve done is we kinda handpicked 20 of the top trucks in the area that WE feel have good quality people, good quality food, and the trucks are solid, clean, professional. We had a group of 6 people, and we actually had a board, the board went with a burger truck, there was some business people there, a group called Young Life that was part of a kid’s organization nationwide that we had, a person that would help us put money into the kids.
The concern now, or that was is that sometimes the promoters would find about the trucks doing these events and strong arm these people, saying if they do any events with Food Trucks for Families, you are no longer allowed to do events with us. And that’s what we’re seeing, dishonesty and such, that’s what this business is trying to do, and we think there’s no one person you should be impressing by doing this for FTF, if you continue cooking for the community you should be proud. Should continue to cook and feed the community and give back, and we saw a lot of food trucks enjoy it more, there’s no drama no issues, it’s a win-win situation for everyone around.
Q: You said you handpicked these trucks, are new trucks able to join in with FTF, and what do they need to know if they want to get involved with the charity?
Craig: Yep, there are new trucks that continue to pop up, and old trucks that fall off, so there is a rotation of different trucks. Usually what we have is we get four people that own the food trucks on the Board, we go out and try their product and look at them, there’s a lot of different factors we look at to be a part of it. One is the quality of food, equipment you’re serving from, do you look professional, act professional, is it a good quality product? We also look at style, there might be too many BBQ or too many Greek or Dessert trucks out, we always look at a couple things and try to make it as fair as possible.
Q: What’s been some of your best moments in your work with FTF? Do you have any that haven’t been so great?
Craig: When we first started out, we did some projects for schools, and the problem with some of these, without having a promoter, we started charging about $100 per truck to do the event, and we had some schools that wanted SO many trucks to come out and serve food, trucks showed up and the school did not promote it like they should have. So one event had 6 trucks and there was maybe 50 people that showed up, and that in itself is not going to help the trucks, it’s too watered down. Something we looked at, let’s go 10% of sales, and we tell whoever does the event that they need to promote it also.
We’re doing these events for one of the children that got hit and killed in Orange City, and they’re building a skate park there for the kids to keep them off the streets. So it’s kind of a great place for the kids to go, and they’re doing a memorial for that, which firstly is honor, instead of a negative they’re turning it into a positive, and we’ve been doing some events for them.
Q: Do you have any particular goals for the future of the charity, and how do you seek to get them implemented?
Craig: We’re going to strive to continue helping out the community we’re in, giving back to the community instead of taking away. And it’s also building a friendship with some of the brick and mortar type restaurants out there, we’ve seen a lot of them start doing food trucks also, and what may coincide with us. So it’s kind of a neat hot-button item now, at first it was just something, but now we’re seeing it’s starting to change, the industry’s changing, it’s kind of neat to see how that goes.
Q: Finally, are there any last points you’d like the readers to know and be aware? Any other ways people can get involved with FTF?
Craig: I think that the readers understand that you sometimes need to give back to the community that you’re in, and this is a great way to do it, there’s multiple organizations that are out there and do it. Basically contact us at foodtrucksforfamilies.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much thanks goes out to Craig for sitting down with us for our article, and much appreciation to FTF for what it is they’re doing. With how hard it already is to operate a food truck in the everyday standards, it can really take a lot to put the time, effort, and other factors into working to help charities and others who need it. So it’s always an amazing thing to be able to see those who are able and choose to do so. Being able to go through this post has been a warm, heartening experience, and we wish the best of luck onto Food Trucks for Families in the future, as well as any businesses that may join them.