Food Trucks Heed the Call of Twitter in NYC's Post-Sandy 'Dead Zone'

Social media is connecting hungry, powerless New Yorkers with meals on wheels.

Food trucks are the savior of hungry Brooklynites who are without power. (Photo: Jmazzollaa/Creative Commons via Flickr)

Nov 1, 2012· 1 MIN READ
Clare Leschin-Hoar's stories on seafood and food politics have appeared in Scientific American, Eating Well and elsewhere.

New York City’s mobile food trucks may have shifted from simply trendy to necessity as they heed the call from neighborhoods that remain without power from post-Sandy tweets like these:

David Weber, president of the NYC Food Truck Association, tells TakePart that they’ve been coordinating directly with Mayor Bloomberg’s Office of Emergency Management to get hot food into the neighborhoods most in need.

“The primary strategy is to send food trucks to neighborhoods that lost power and secondly to the shelters within those neighborhoods,” he says. “It’s a good Band-Aid for the short term, and at the moment, they have the food, propane, and wherewithal to be someplace where they could be of use.”

Some, like Wafels & Dinges, which have two trucks in the blackout zones, are keeping hard-working responders warm:

But as of Thursday morning, securing ingredients may be more difficult.

“There are still logistical challenges in getting staff in to prep food and having enough food supplies. People who had food are starting to run out because a large portion of the [food delivery] trucks haven’t been getting into [Manhattan],” says Weber.

A few trucks that don’t have food available are heading to neighborhoods anyway, offering power strips so residents in neighborhoods without power can charge mobile devices and stay connected.

Unfortunately, access to fuel is an emerging problem:

“Right now, gas is my major concern,” says Thomas DeGeest, owner of six Wafels & Dinges trucks. “If I don’t find gas today, we have to shut down tomorrow. The gas situation caught me off-guard. I didn’t see that coming at all.”

Branded food trucks aren’t the only meals on wheels. Melanie Pipkin, Red Cross spokesperson, tells TakePart that of their 322 response vehicles, 200 of them are currently working on Sandy response.

Independent mobile food trucks are not part of the Red Cross’ national policy for disaster response, but perhaps they should be. In San Diego, for instance, local restaurateur David Cohn, who operates a number of restaurants and food trucks, has registered as a food vendor with the local Red Cross chapter should an earthquake or other disaster strike.

Courtney Pendleton, the San Diego Red Cross spokesperson, said a specific food truck partnerhsip is not in place right now, but it is something her office is working on.

“These would be agreements for local disasters, and most likely on a smaller scale,” she says.

Webber thinks it’s a good idea and says it’s something he’ll look into after New York City returns to normal.

“I think the self-sufficiency of food trucks lends itself to this,” he said.