WATCH: Small truck, huge community service

Food Truck provides healthy food options and free food for those in need

Paul Rodgers

You may have noticed the food truck parked near Memorial Arena, but closer inspection of it reveals that it is much more than a place to get a quick, affordable and healthy meal.

The Food Truck, which operates Tuesdays to Fridays 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., is a social enterprise of the non-profit Community Connections Society. Any time the Food Truck makes a profit it goes back to the kitchen program of Community Connections to help those in need. The truck also has the community cash program that helps those who can’t afford a meal.

“It’s different,” Food Truck supervisor Bev Nearing said. “People look at food trucks and they think burgers, fries, fast food — but we’re trying something different. We’re trying fresh, organic, farm-to-table, let’s feed your body and your soul and let’s give back to the community.”

She started out as a volunteer for Community Connections doing casual work. Then Tanya Malcolm, Kitchen Project coordinator and manager of the community kitchen, saw Nearing cooking up a storm and noticed that she had a natural knack for it and asked her to be the supervisor of the food truck.

It is a busy full-time job for Nearing, who is responsible not only for cooking everything, but also attending to the business side of things: working with financials and event planning and working with other programs to support the food truck or vice-versa.

“I also help support any other programs. like I know there’s Churches, the Street Angels, a few other programs in our building and they help feed people in need also,” Nearing said. “I’m just helping top all that off because I believe that the whole community should work together to build a better community.”

Nearing hopes to get the truck into the Cranbrook Farmer’s Market and into more local events and ultimately into larger-scale catering next year.

“We do small office and social gathering catering so it’s like 15 people but I want to do … I’ve got big plans!” Nearing said.

Malcolm is currently covering Sophie Larsen’s maternity leave.

“She (Larsen) is the individual who had the vision to bring food programs into Community Connection Society and really had the support of our executive team and the board of directors to purchase the food truck,” explains Malcolm.

Larsen purchased the food truck in 2016, did some renovations to it, and operated it every Thursday last summer. Malcolm, who has worked with Community Connection Society since November of 2016 and in other similar fields before that, also oversees a project to support local food-focused entrepreneurs called Farm Kitchen, providing invidiuals with rental kitchen space. Larsen wrote an economic development grant to the BC Rural Dividend allowing for the creation of this second project.

“I think it’s important to say that it’s not only our community members who are in need that we’re really trying to inspire to choose healthy options,” Malcolm said. “And I’m not just talking about the community cash program just in general our menu is really about elevating people’s well being.”