The food truck revolution has swept California. Trucks with the finest artisanal food frequent downtown lunch hotspots, nighttime hipster gatherings, and private parties and weddings. In San Diego, there’s a food truck of a different tune, serving the homeless for very low cost.
Theresa Smith, a grad student from the University of San Diego, won the grand prize of $10,000 in her school’s Social Innovation Challenge to start The Fresh Truck, a taco truck that goes around to low-income neighborhoods and serves cheap eats to those who need it most. Burritos cost $3.50, and juice is $.50, in addition to inexpensive burgers, salads, snacks, and other food prepared with kindness.
But the truck doesn’t just dish out cheap grub. While homeless are waiting for their orders, The Fresh Truck will sign them up for CalFresh (formerly food stamps). Homeless who qualify for CalFresh often don’t take advantage of it because they aren’t connected. They don’t need an address, just a picture id, and The Fresh Truck makes it easy to sign up.
Finally, Theresa Smith wants The Fresh Truck to also serve as a workforce development tool. She hires the formerly homeless and eventually wants to see the homeless completely running the truck.
We at United Way love the idea of turning the trend of food trucks into an industry for good, serving the neediest people in our community. It’s Hunger Action Month, and we want to recognize The Fresh Truck for providing great food in a creative way while connecting people to government support.
In the Bay Area, one in five people live in poverty. If you’ve got a creative idea for how to serve those who are struggling to get by, we want to hear it. Post a comment!