Good Eats, Good Cause: GR’s Goodwill Food Truck First of its Kind

When you think Goodwill, does food come to mind?

Although the organization’s secondhand shops are the most visible and plentiful job-training sites, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids is working to make careers in the food service industry a core part of the mission as well.

Training workers for a career in food service is one more way to get people who may be underemployed or have some type of barrier to employment such as a criminal history, mental disability, or other condition on the path to independence, explained Jill Wallace, Chief Marketing Officer.

“So many people have barriers to employment,” she said. “It begins the cycle to self-sufficiency. That’s our goal.”

Blue Spoon is Goodwill’s catering and event planning service, operating out of Grand Rapid’s Downtown Market. A Blue Spoon Soup & Spuds counter at the market offers daily rotating house-made soups, made-to-order baked potatoes, and variety of toppings for both. Salads and sandwiches are also available.

The newest addition to the food-service training operation is an on-trend food truck, which made its official debut at the Taste of Grand Rapids and also served spectators at the 28th Street Metro Cruise. The truck was made possible through a $100,000 grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

DSCN2684[1]“It’s the first of its kind in Goodwill,” Wallace said. “We’re pretty excited about it. The food truck allows us to train individuals in another avenue of food service.”

Rock Dandeneau is Goodwill’s Director of Hospitality Programs and manages all of the food training opportunities. He said the food truck is exciting because it offers participants a chance to see what owning their own small business would be like. He said food trucks have a lower start-up cost than traditional restaurant models and could provide higher-paying careers in food service for those with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Whether someone needs introductory work experience or the opportunity to re-learn food service skills after an extended career absence, Dandeneau said Goodwill can meet them where they’re at.

“It really is about that participant’s career goal,” he said.

Dandeneau and crew are gearing up to serve a new Tex-Mex menu at ArtPrize. The Blue Spoon food truck will be at the B.O.B.’s parking lot throughout the art competition, which runs Sept. 23 through Oct. 11. The truck will be open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Breakfast will be served from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

Ninety percent of revenues from Goodwill’s Blue Spoon catering and retail operations go directly toward the organization’s job training and placement programs.

If you’re going downtown for ArtPrize, make sure to make breakfast, lunch or dinner at Goodwill’s Blue Spoon food truck a priority. All that walking is sure to make you hungry and you can fill up and support a great cause at the same time. Follow Goodwill Grand Rapids on Facebook to find out where you’ll see the food truck next!

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Photo credit: Julie Bitely

 

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