It Just Might Work: Tackling hunger with a food truck

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by Joanna Rutter

My predecessor Danny Wirtheim recently pitched a great idea in this column to bring fresh produce to a city hub like the downtown depot as one answer to Greensboro and High Point’s current ranking as the most food-insecure metro area in the country.

Other fine ideas are currently being put into action, such as the Mobile Oasis Farmers Market, but since people are still hungry, here’s another suggestion for the mix: an affordable food truck that drives to where other vendors aren’t setting up camp.

I’m stealing this idea with permission from my friends at the Relief Bus, an organization that uses buses to bring food and social services to areas where the need is greatest, since the old model of brick-and-mortar agencies is suffering as gentrification pushes the poorest New Yorkers to the furthest edges of the city. It’s clear that access to affordable and nutritious food is directly related to location.

In the same vein, the Renaissance Community Co-op is planting itself in northeast Greensboro’s food desert, where there are no TeeterDomes to be found. A food truck could supplement the work of organizations like the grocery co-op and the Mobile Oasis by selling freshly prepared food to-go on regular routes throughout Greensboro and High Point, while hitting areas usually unreached by trendy competitors targeting more affluent customers.

The Food Research & Action Center, which gave this area its No. 1 ranking, suggests government intervention is necessary to solve the problem of hunger. Perhaps the county could invest in refurbishing a truck and hand over the reins to an adventurous local chef.

Prices would be much cheaper than a typical food truck (by using in-season produce, eliminating the need for a brick-and-mortar restaurant, keeping the dishes uncomplicated, and creatively sourcing food from UNCG’s Food Recovery Network) and should accept SNAP. In order to earn its keep as a government investment on its off-duty hours, the truck could operate as a food supplier or shuttle to warming centers in the winter.

A truck on a food-insecurity-busting mission could simply be one more needed piece in making sure that convenient, affordable and healthy options are available to people hit hardest by food insecurity.

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