Date of Completion

2017

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Community Development & Applied Economics

Type of Thesis

Honors College

First Advisor

Daniel H. Baker

Second Advisor

Jane Kolodinsky

Third Advisor

Joshua Farley

Keywords

Community food security, food truck, mobile food, social capital, inclusivity, nutrition, foodbank, caring capitalism, social enterprise

Abstract

Abstract

Despite the ostensible abundance of “cheap food” today, food insecurity remains a complex issue that impacts 12.7 percent of American households. This paper investigates the efficacy and sustainability of an innovative approach to addressing community food insecurity launched by the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf of Burlington, Vermont. Known as the Good Food Truck, this program has capitalized on the cultural trend of mobile food vending to create an inclusive space for low-income individuals to enjoy free, chef-inspired meals crafted with locally produced ingredients donated by Vermont farmers, gleaning teams, and larger entities. This operation is novel because it provides free meals to all community meal attendees, and because it operates as a social enterprise model by catering various events for profit. Net profits are used to subsidize free meals at three locations each week.

This study uses of mixed methods. Data was collected through surveys, observation, and interviews at community meals and vending events. Findings suggest that although the intervention does not eradicate chronic hunger, it complements existing social safety nets. Beyond a fresh, healthful meal, the truck provides a dignified space for all to engage in an increasingly popular dining experience, fosters social capital formation, provides experiential nutrition education through exposure to healthy, appealing foods, and transmits information about social services. Ultimately, the program is limited in scope due to resource constraints, but the model has the potential to target underlying causes of food insecurity with expanded programming and utilization of the truck as built capital.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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