Lo­cal food bank’s truck hits the road

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com

Many busi­nesses are tak­ing their brand on the road to reach more con­sumers, and food trucks have be­come a vi­able method to ac­com­plish that. The South­ern Maryland Food Bank has de­cided to use the same tac­tic in or­der to de­liver hot meals to those in need.

On Oct. 5, the food bank held a rib­bon-cut­ting event for the Meals of Hope food truck dur­ing Com­mu­nity Re­source Day at the Greater Wal­dorf Jaycees Com­mu­nity Cen­ter. Spon­sors in­cluded Wal­dorf Toy­ota; Greg Basi­liko, gen­eral man­ager of Wal­dorf Ford and Dodge; Fancy Vans and Mo­bil­ity; Arba Graph­ics & South­ern Maryland Wraps team; United Way of Charles County and Grif­fin’s Floor­ing Amer­ica.

Brenda Di­Carlo, di­rec­tor of the South­ern Maryland Food Bank, said the truck was made pos­si­ble be­cause lo­cal spon­sors took her dream and made it come true.

The food bank has been serv­ing Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s coun­ties since 1983. The food bank’s mo­bile meal pi­lot pro­gram — now Meals of Hope — be­gan in Septem­ber, with a do­nated truck from Catholic Char­i­ties of the Arch­dio­cese of Wash­ing­ton. The Meals of Hope’s new food truck, themed “4 Wheels & A Meal,” strives to feed peo­ple where they are.

“It’s a four year dream come true,” Di­Carlo said. “I thought about this con­cept four years ago, so this is a sur­real mo­ment for me.”

Basi­liko do­nated the truck and Wal­dorf Toy­ota do­nated the money to have the ve­hi­cle retro­fit­ted. Di­Carlo said the truck is clean, has lots of stor­age and plenty of space to grow the pro­gram.

“Our cus­tomers are a big part of the com­mu­nity and we thought it would be great to give back to the less for­tu­nate within the com­mu­nity,” Basi­liko said. “The com­mit­tee mem­bers and my­self are ex­cited to see it fi­nally on the road. It’s a long time com­ing. With all the neg­a­tive [things] you hear in the world to­day, it’s good to see var­i­ous com­mu­nity mem­bers come to­gether for a good cause. With this food truck we should be able to feed 400 to 500 peo­ple a month. Brenda’s re­lent­less vi­sion and drive to see this get done is what got it fin­ished. She wasn’t go­ing to let up un­til it was done.”

“United Way of Charles County was also a con­trib­u­tor and has contributed a grant of $8,820 for three months of meals,” Di­Carlo said. “Wal­dorf Toy­ota contributed an ad­di­tional do­na­tion of $5,000 dur­ing the morn­ing of the rib­bon cut­ting, so we have about six months of fund­ing to pro­vide meals twice a week.”

Michael Mur­phy, Meals of Hope com­mit­tee mem­ber and vol­un­teer, said the mem­bers have been work­ing on this mo­bile meal pro­gram for three and a half years.

“Brenda saw a need to get food out to var­i­ous parts of the county,” Mur­phy said. “It all came to­gether. This is def­i­nitely go­ing to bring a lot of re­lief to the com­mu­nity.”

Mur­phy said the food will be pre­pared in kitchens owned by other groups and church or­ga­ni­za­tions. After the food is pre­pared, it will be put on the truck and taken to var­i­ous sites.

Di­Carlo and Mur­phy said Steve Clontz of Fancy Vans and Mo­bil­ity was a big help in the truck’s retrofitting process.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the honor of be­ing in­volved in this project and the trust Brenda put in me to ac­com­plish this,” Clontz said. “I saw her vi­sion and it all worked out in the end.”

Clontz said it took his team three to four weeks to fin­ish retrofitting the truck. They added an en­trance door on the back of the truck, built the gen­er­a­tor box, built the steps, in­stalled cab­i­nets, built walls and added a win­dow. They also in­stalled a re­frig­er­a­tor, warm­ers and a few other stain­less steel sup­plies. He said if there wasn’t such a tight dead­line, he would have done all of the elec­tri­cal work him­self.

The South­ern Maryland Food Bank is cur­rently seek­ing lo­cal busi­nesses in­ter­ested in host­ing themed nights with Meals of Hope. Di­Carlo said Pizza Hut in La Plata is the first com­pany do­ing a themed night, dubbed “Tak­ing a Slice Out of Hunger.” It costs $300 for a busi­ness to spon­sor one meal night. For more in­for­ma­tion, call Di­Carlo at 301-274-0695.

STAFF PHOTO BY TIF­FANY WAT­SON

The South­ern Maryland Food Bank held a rib­bon cut­ting Oct. 5 at the Wal­dorf Jaycees Com­mu­nity Cen­ter for its new Meals of Hope food truck that will de­liver pre­pared meals to those in need.

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