When a new Oklahoma City food truck isn’t serving burgers at street parties, it will deliver free healthy meals to kids who are struggling with hunger.
“As efficient as food banks are, they still have a hard time delivering food to the margins of our community,” says Mike Zserdin from Made Possible By Us, the startup launching the truck. “A lot of times the people who need the food aren’t able to get it at the delivery points.”
The Food for All truck will travel to after-school programs, serving meals cooked up pro bono by a local restaurant group called A Good Egg. The ingredients are donated from Whole Foods. “We wanted to address both food availability and nutrition,” Zserdin says. “So instead of just delivering macaroni and cheese and dry goods, we’re delivering fresh cooked food. They also get nutritional education, because it’s odd that food insecurity and obesity seem to kind of go hand in hand in the U.S.”
The hybrid business model of the truck–serving up paid meals some of the time–is designed to keep the project going. “We wanted to come up with a way to keep the food truck sustainable,” he says.
The costs of operating the truck are minimal–Whole Foods donates ingredients at cost for the paid side of the venture, A Good Egg still donates labor, and other local businesses have also pledged to keep it going, like a local garage that will do free repairs. When the truck works street parties, all proceeds go back to the Food Bank of Oklahoma; every dollar raised can provide five meals.
The project is the first on Made Possible By Us, a platform that invites community members to help fund local solutions. “We wanted to start out with this idea of how do we solve our community’s problems in the context of community,” Zserdin says. “How do we create a social action community that goes about the business of intentionally looking at problems and opportunities in our community?”
In June, the founders launched a campaign on Twitter called #WhatIfOKC, asking locals for ideas about how to improve the city. Hunger rose to the top of the list; one in six Oklahomans is food insecure. The idea for the new food truck was born, and after finding in-kind sponsors, the team launched a campaign to raise funds for the truck. The truck should be ready next spring–and will stay on the road indefinitely thanks to its unique business model.
“We don’t anticipate needing donations to keep it going,” says Zserdin. “We hope it’s a model we can replicate.”