For some of Raleigh’s kids, Monday afternoon was indeed their first rodeo.
In this instance, it was a food truck rodeo held north of downtown where more than 200 homeless children and their families feasted on goodies offered by over a half dozen mobile munch outlets that set up shop in the parking lot of the Salvation Army on Capital Boulevard.
Folks started lining up in front of the food stations just after 5 p.m., and by the event’s end, the food vendors had given away well over 300 plates of food.
“Part of our core values is community,” said Gus Megaloudis, owner of Gussy’s Greek Street Food and outreach director of the RDU Mobile Food Association, which got its start several months ago and now has more than 70 members. “The community supports us, so we wanted to give back to the community. This is our second event. The first one was at the Raleigh Rescue Mission.”
That sentiment was echoed by each food truck owner who participated in Monday’s rodeo.
“It’s not about us. We’re blessed to be a blessing,” said Ernest Harris, a mobile food truck association board member who owns Chick N Cue. “Good food, good atmosphere, good people. It’s convenient. It’s not the normal fast food. I think people are looking for more.”
The food was a hit.
Workers with Philly Cheesesteaks gave away more than 100 of the sandwiches in about an hour and had to start turning people away.
“For 27 years, I couldn’t get a good cheesesteak,” said Damian Mescanti, the owner of Philly’s Cheesesteaks, which sets up every Friday night in Five Points.
Gussy’s menu highlighted the “Zeus Platter,” a mini feast in honor of the old Greek god that offered up gyro meat, falafel, a Greek salad and fries, served with hummus and warm pita bread.
Right next to Gussy’s, sisters Nicole McIntyre and Whitney Adams of Raleigh had set up Cocoa Forte, which featured New York cheesecake dipped in an assortment of decadent syrups, including cherry and cocoa-chocolate peanut butter.
“It tastes just like a Snicker bar,” McIntyre said about the cocoa-chocolate peanut butter dip.
“All of these are like a slice of heaven on a stick,” Adams said.
Mike Grooms with Will & Pops 2.0 was using colored chalk to create fancy menu boards that offered “The Primitive” – their basic grilled cheese sandwich – and specialty burgers like “Big Kev,” a burger with a fried egg and American cheese.
The late afternoon, two-hour event at the Salvation Army’s Center of Hope was also open to the paying public, with 25 percent of the proceeds from the food purchases going to benefit families who participate in the Salvation Army programs, particularly its homeless child program: Community Action Targeting Children Who Are Homeless, or CATCH.
Project CATCH partners with 11 shelters in Wake County to offer physical, emotional and educational assistance to children who are homeless.
“This was nice for them to give back to the community,” said Shawn Prince, 41, who sat on a sidewalk curb with her 10-year-old son, Christian, and ate a cheesesteak sandwich. “And, just to serve the less fortunate and make us feel good, it’s nice just to know that people still do care.”