Date of Completion
Honors College Thesis
Community Development & Applied Economics
Daniel H. Baker
Community food security, food truck, mobile food, social capital, inclusivity, nutrition, foodbank, caring capitalism, social enterprise
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
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
Noth, Mariah N., "Creating Dignity, Not Dependence: Community Development & Food Security Implications of Mobile Food Vending" (2017). UVM Honors College Senior Theses. 163.