Being the holiday season, we wanted to take a step back and look at some of the ways food trucks are being used as a catalyst for positive change in their communities. Whether it’s outfitting their truck to help in Disaster Relief, utilizing their mobility to reach and serve homeless, or donating extra time and profits to charity, the service provided by each of these food trucks can be described as nothing less than amazing. As such, we’ve decided to find and feature various food trucks and associations that, in one way or another, have done their part in assisting charities, the community, and disaster relief. In addition to the trucks featured in this post there are a number of M&R Specialty Trailers and Trucks customers that are contributing to their time and efforts to local charities. Some of customers actively involved in charity work include BOBO’s Que in North Carolina, Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza Truck in New Orleans, and The Latin Soul Grille Food Truck in Jacksonville, FL. In an upcoming post we plan to feature The Latin Soul Grille about their work helping a homeless shelter to distribute meals. Thanks to all of these trucks for making the food truck industry a great community to be part of and have a joyous holiday season!
Food Trucks Giving Back
A Bahn Mi and Viatnamese-cuisine based truck that focuses on setting a section of its proceeds aside for charity, Manna From Heaven focuses on feeding the hungry in Denver ‘one meal at a time.’ “Manna from Heaven began when our teenage children wanted to open a restaurant that has the ability to feed the hungry homeless freshly made meals on the spot. We found that having a restaurant on wheels is a unique way to serve those who can and can not pay for their meals. We put aside 10% of sales to help provide support for meals so, everybody who eats at our truck are helping feed someone who can’t afford food for themselves. We have been blessed with the opportunity to serve and meet others through food. We take that blessing and multiply it through the giving of prepared meals as well as a percentage our gross income to others on a regular basis. We give cash donations to organizations that can better utilize donations of this type than food. The food truck business is a tough business to operate day by day. But when our goals is for the greater good, the joy of service outweighs the hardships. If a food truck owner truly believes in giving back to the community, it is recommended that the business owners select a charity they can believe in and could relate to, then purposefully work toward achieving their goal of donating a percentage of their income or sales, or a portion of their food service for charities on a regular basis. If the energy is focused on doing good for others, the rewards for their effort will take care of itself.”
A non-profit bakery apart of the Orlando Union Rescue Mission, All Things Sweet opened a food truck and worked with the Food Trucks for Families charity group in the city. Though they’ve ended up selling the truck after the group disbanded, Chef Terah was kind enough to tell us a bit about their business and experience with the Truck. “We provide job training in baking and pastry to qualified residents of the mission in addition to also being a high quality bakery for the city of Orlando. 100% of any donation or sales goes back into the bakery for learning. The students have been taught by two pastry chefs, Terah Barrios and Angel Buckland for the last year. The second class is now in progress. When we had the food truck the response from others was amazing. People always donated more than the cost of the product. We enjoyed getting the word out about the mission and what it does and of course, what we do here at the bakery as a part of the mission.”
Another past member of Food Trucks for Families, Sweet City Gelato is still a leading name in mobile charity works, continuing to work with different non-profits near them. We asked them about who they’re involved with, and how others can successfully get involved and work with local charities. “We work with many local schools, churches, and other non-profits that plan events to help raise money for a particular cause ranging from dog rescues to childhood cancer research. We try to focus on organizations that are community-based so that we’re sure the funds raised are going back to our local area. Food truck owners interested in helping charities should contact local non-profit organizations in their community to express their interest in helping them raise funds by organizing a food truck rally. When speaking to the organization’s marketing coordinator, they should ascertain that they have the means to market the event so that the food trucks have successful sales and are able to give back to the cause they are raising money for. Every food truck participating in the event wants to give back a portion of their sales, but the food trucks are also small businesses and want to be involved in successful events. Before the event, the food truck owners and the organization should have an agreed upon percent of sales that will go to the cause at the end of the event”.
A South Florida ice cream truck that focuses on hand-crafted, ‘make your own’ Gelato pops, HipPOPS’ Quebec-born owner Tony has focused on finding many Catering jobs to benefits Charities. One can of course hire them for one’s own parties or find on the street, but being able to ‘pay it forward’ is what drives the heart of this cool team. “I GOT TIRED OF DOING MALL BASED DEALS WHERE THE OCCUPANCY COSTS WERE SKY HIGH, THE HOURS VERY LONG, AND FOR A GOOD LOCATION I WAS REQUIRED TO PERSONALLY GUARANTY THE LEASE. ALL WHILE TRYING TO GET A ROI $5.00 AT A TIME. I KNEW I COULD OFFER THE PUBLIC A REALLY HIGH QUALITY PRODUCT AT A FAIR PRICE SO WITH OUR CURRENT BUSINESS MODEL I HAVE TAKEN THE RESOURCES FROM THE RENT AND PUT IT WHERE IT BELONGS, IN THE INGREDIENTS. GIVING BACK IS ALWAYS IMPORTANT, ONE CANNOT KEEP TAKING WITHOUT GIVING BACK. IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD TO DO SOMETHING THAT BENEFITS OTHERS ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE IS NO AGENDA, PAYING IT FORWARD IS IMPORTANT, TO LEAVE SOMETHING BETTEROFF THAN WHEN I FOUND IT. HOWEVER WE HAVE A GREAT WORK/LIFE BALANCE WITH THIS MODEL. OUR GOAL IS TO GIVE OTHER FOLKS AROUND THIS GREAT COUNTRY THE SAME OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A BUSINESS LIKE OURS. WE STARTED FRANCHISING THE CONCEPT IN MARCH OF 2014 AND ARE CURRENTLY INTERVIEWING POTENTIAL CANDIDATES. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE OPPORTUNITY ONE MAY GO TO WWW.FRANCHISEHIPPOPS.COM. I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT GIVE KIDS THE WORLD IN KISSIMMEE, FL. .( www.gktw.org ) WE TYPICALLY DONATE ICE CREAM ONCE A YEAR THERE AND EVERY YEAR AT THANKSGIVING/CHRISTMAS TIME WE LIKE TO SET A POPup GELATO BAR ON THE PEDIATRIC ONCOLOGY DEPT. FLOOR AT THE JOE DIMAGGIO CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL IN HOLLYWOOD ( WHERE MY 2 OLDER CHILDREN WERE BORN ) JUST TO GIVE THE FAMILIES A FEW HOURS OF FUN AND DELISHISNESS, WHERE THEY CAN WATCH THEIR CHILDREN’S FACE LIGHT UP, ITS THE BEST!!!”
The story of how the ADR organization merged with a local, delicious Tamale maker is so intriguing, I don’t think I can do it justice, so I’ll just post the compelling words right out of their own mouth. “The economy went south; grants became so difficult to get or they had a freeze on granting grants, donations all but stopped coming in as more people became unemployed – we had a disaster we need to get items to and no fuel funds to get them there. Our future assisting with disasters was looking very gray / dark. A person who was very established with his reputation making and selling Tamales offered to make them for us “at cost” so we could sell them at an event in Montrose, Colorado. We barrowed a pop-up tent, the space was donated and 100 Tamales sold out in no time – we could have sold more BUT, we had the fuel funds. We received so many calls for more events to sell the Tamales, but setting up with the tent and all the warmers took it’s own crew of volunteers. “Idea” – lets serve from the back of a 16 ft. flatbed trailer – then materials were donated and the labor to enclose the trailer – it was an evolution of people caring and doing what they could to keep America’s Disaster Relief rolling. Over time we had a stove, ref. freezer, prep area, sinks, steam table – we started feeding fires fighters battling forest fires, then apartment fires – it evolved into an operation that now funds the Florida Division.” 100% of all profits and donations go to help Disaster Relief, and though ADR has divisions throughout the US, Florida is the only one with a Mobile Kitchen Set-up, a unique mirror of one of the regions with the highest street food culture in the world. Of course the food is handed out free at the Relief sites, but cost is supported elsewhere: “Our Florida Division has the Mobile Kitchen that is taken into the devastated areas and food is offered FREE to those who have suffered a loss and many times the responders who have arrived to help. To support this project the Mobile Kitchen does events, and Food Truck Rally’s where we serve Tamales & Mexican Foods By America’s Disaster Relief. Our cook “Gumer” is from Veracruz, Mexico and has volunteered cooking for several years, he has quite a reputation for his Tamales and his Burritos are now taking the lead. “His reward” is to know people are enjoying his creation, knowing he has prepared everything from old family receipts with healthy fresh ingredients and the public is really enjoying it.” There is one last thing in this interview, this article, that I would like to share. Being a native Texan and giving soul, CEO of the American Disaster Relief Jan France was extremely gracious in her responses, and she finished her long page of answers with something that I felt deserved sharing. When simply asked what else she’d like to add, Jan replied with this: “Always give from your heart, be positive and volunteer. I ask who’s position is more important; the person who organizes everything, the person / company who donates, the person who passes out the donations or preps them, or the person who has the skill and time to sit – listen and give a hug to those in need? The answer is; there is not one position more important than another – every position is part of a whole When we work with other organizations – “I” like to know are they doing this for the salary they make or would they be doing this if they didn’t get paid?”
Once again, we thank all of these trucks not only for letting us feature them in this post, but also for the time and money they spend helping out those who need it. We wish them and any other charity-driven-entrepreneurs full luck in all future work.