“You should do a food truck”.
As a restauranteur at the Jersey shore, I’ve heard this line so many times in my career. I typically responded with the same, knowing smile. It’s awesome for those who love that work, who like that business model. It’s great for them. But it never seemed like the right fit for me. Then again, never say never.
Most recently, I heard this encouragement during a conversation with a friend. She and I discussed the idea of a food truck, but with a twist that made my heart smile with curiosity and creativity. The food truck we discussed this time was different. This truck would train community members in hospitality and culinary arts and then provide on-location catering for other local non-profits. It was a dream truck, a literal vehicle for change that would make a difference in the lives of the workers and the non-profits they served. We’d need a truck, a manager, volunteers. We’d need to train community members, we’d need to stock the truck, and we’d need community organizations and companies to take an interest. We’d surely be serving food in the community but we’d really be using it as a traveling change-maker for Food For Thought By The Sea and the Jersey Shore.
What is Food For Thought By The Sea
If you aren’t familiar with my non-profit, Food For Thought By The Sea, you may not know that it is an organization dedicated to helping the community and creating a positive environment for local youth. Food For Thought By The Sea believes that by creating an active community we can help our citizens live a fuller life. Food For Thought By The Sea is dedicated to help the community grow and prosper while advocating for environmental health, culinary arts, and community outreach. We strive to develop creative outlets, social awareness and positive learning environments for today's youth through programs that foster healthy relationships and learning opportunities that aid in life-long development with concentration being in the culinary arts and cultural development, as well as exposure to real-life environments.
We hold neighborhood unity and sustainability in the highest regard and work to uplift the children in our community through job training, personal growth and inner confidence. When we connect the different groups within our communities we create a larger circle, a stronger ever-growing support system for our youth, and the possibility of harmony in the place we all call home. Sustainability, much like neighborhood unity, is a result of a pact we make with ourselves and one another to be thoughtful, considerate, forward-thinking, and action-oriented in the ways we interact with our food and environment. When we are united, acting in the interest of all, and serving all, we have the chance to make real, positive, and enduring change in our communities. Food For Thought By The Sea is an embodiment of the interwoven nature of our community and its work seeks to serve in a way that allows all of our neighbors to grow and thrive.
Aside from the Vehicle For Change Food Truck Initiative, Food For Thought By The Sea seeks to offer free summer surf lessons with the Boys and Girls Club and Asbury Park Recreation Department. We offer free art, music, and gardening programs with the Boys and Girls Club, have a partnership with Merrick Farm to facilitate volunteer opportunities and we host free community dinners at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter to bring the community together.
So, About This Food Truck…
Our goal is for this truck to be a staple of help and healthy food for our wonderful seaside community. We want to create the truck so that it is consistently providing jobs to inexperienced youth and sustainable cuisine to our town's foodies! Our fundraising is focused on out fitting our truck we hope to receive on-going donations in order to staff a project manager for the truck. We believe that this truck has the ability to foster change and growth and we want this truck to drive the success and fulfillment of everyone involved.
Somehow, some way, that conversation made it into an article in the Asbury Park Press and now, here I sit, telling you about the Food For Thought By The Sea Food Truck. The world works in mysterious ways, right?
After that article in the Asbury Park Press, dozens of people reached out to donate to a food truck that didn’t even exist yet. It was miraculous. These people felt that the idea was fantastic and they wanted to help! One of those people was a woman who worked for Land Rover of Monmouth. She was so excited about the truck idea that she convinced Penske (The parent company of Land Rover) to provide an actual used box truck (a good ol’ retired FedEx truck), to fit out as our food truck. The rest, as they say, is almost history. The Food For Thought Food Truck promises to be a literal vehicle for change in our community and with your help, by next spring, this already awesome food truck will be coming to a parking spot near you.
What’s Next For The Food Truck: Being A Part of Community Growth
It’s important to note that we’re now rolling into the fundraising phase for this project. New Jersey natural gas is offering a $30,000 matching grant and we’ve raised some of that money already. The Asbury Park Press has been kind enough to serve as a media sponsor.
When we raise enough money to complete our vehicle for change, this non-profit catering food truck will be on its way. Your company, organization, or non-profit could hire it to do events and would then choose the charity to donate money to. In this way Food For Thought By The Sea facilitates the process of raising money and awareness for other non-profits.