Food trucks benefit community events with unique dishes and contributions

Camille Anglo

With unique made-to-order meals ranging from Korean tacos to bacon-laden sliders and the numerous ways to top a hot dog, the rise of the food truck trend has been a dream come true to many food lovers.

Yet, not only are food trucks providing customers with a rare dining experience, they are doing their part to give back to the community that has made them a booming business.

President of Friends of the North Natomas Library, Karen Thomas, said including food trucks along with the library’s events have proved successful., and since many people were in attendance at the gatherings, it has helped boost the summer reading program the organization has been promoting.

“Since people love to buy food from the food trucks we’ve signed up a lot of people for summer reading. North Natomas is trying to get many people to read during the summer,” Thomas said. “We think with all the hustle and bustle, we’re going to hit upward of 10,000 people.”

Sacramento Mobile Food Events, or Sactomofo, has been organizing mobile food truck gatherings for events and fundraisers for two years.

Sactomofo manager Paul Somerhausen said these events are an excellent way for people to socialize with others because it encourages them to bond over a passion for food.

“I think food trucks not only contribute to the food scene, but they also contribute to the social scene in a sense that by virtue of everything being cooked to order. It takes awhile for the food to come out, so the people hang out in the line together,” Somerhausen said. “Eventually, they all sit at the communal tables together and they interact with each other. It gets people who don’t necessarily know each other to have conversations about their food and what they actually have in common.”

Somerhausen said he’s glad to be a part of people getting to know their neighbors and their own community.

“Sometimes you see a lot of regulars that keep coming back and they make friends. So not only is it communal with the food, but it’s also a social opportunity to network,” Somerhausen said

According to the Sactomofo website, the food trucks working with various organizations have been a success with fundraisers such as Rebuild McKinley Park, the Whole Foods Foundation, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services by helping them raise thousands of dollars.

James Wheeler, owner of BaconMania, said his truck does many fundraisers, such as youth programs that promote sports and education among children.

“I try to do as many things for kids as I can,” Wheeler said. “I have a daughter, so we do a lot of her events as well.”

Gameday Grill owner A.J. Navarro said since food trucks have gained a large following, the food truck events help spread community awareness to customers who trek to gatherings.

“For schools, we’ll come help and make their event more exciting,” Navarro said. “We have such a huge following that some of our customers will come out to their event and participate and in the end, sometimes depending on the event, we’ll give them a percentage of our sales that goes directly into schools and goes directly into youth organizations.”

Food trucks are a huge draw for fundraisers or community events, but the at the core of it all, the food helps bring people closer together.

With an emphasis on fresh cooked dishes, many of the gourmet trucks from the past two years have broken the stigma of food trucks only providing pre-cooked food, Navarro said.

“If you think back to 10 or 15 years ago, you would think of food trucks, you think of getting a rice bowl and a burrito that’s already made sitting there in a warmer,” Navarro said. “That was my thought of food trucks and now they evolved to making fresh to order style food. Things like that is great with how far it’s come along.”

Wheeler said BaconMania creates much of its bacon-infused menu from scratch. It is that technique that got BaconMania’s sister truck in Orange County featured on the Cooking Channel’s “United States of Bacon” while the Sacramento truck was shown on “Good Day Sacramento.”

“One thing a lot of people don’t realize about (some) food trucks is that every single thing in this food truck is made from scratch,” Wheeler said. “We’re here like a couple hours early and we grate our cheese and we make our macaroni. Everything is from scratch every morning. The only thing we don’t make is our brownies.”

Navarro said although food trucks provide entertainment for the masses, it’s a win-win situation because both parties benefit from each other.

“What makes it really unique is that we’re directly giving back to the community,” Navarro said. “We’re happy to go into those situations and it works for both of us.”

Camille Anglo can be reached at [email protected]