Wafels and Dinges truck in New Dorp

News Street Vending / Waterfront

Food Trucks Helping Communities Recover from Sandy

As we all know by now, the actual wind, rain, and storm surges from Hurricane Sandy this weekend were only the beginning. Thousands of people have lost their homes, and whole swaths of neighborhoods have been destroyed. As the weather gets colder this week, it’s more important than ever for those without shelter and power to get hot meals.

Thanks to the New York City Food Truck Association, along with generous help from JetBlue, a number of New York’s best food trucks have been able to provide hot meals to people in need, despite gas shortages and limited road service. Last week, trucks started appearing to donate food to the neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan that were still without power, and they served over 20,000 meals. But as news reports started coming in about the massive devastation in areas like Staten Island and the Rockaways, the food trucks turned their engines to the communities that needed it most.

Wafels and Dinges truck in New Dorp
Wafels & Dinges serving meals in New Dorp, Staten Island (credit: Wafels & Dinges).

They have been able to continue their efforts thanks to donations from the public. Today, eight trucks are out serving hot food to the hardest hit communities. And while their first fundraising effort was a huge success, there are still many people who are hungry and in need. So a second campaign was launched this morning through the Indiegogo crowdsource fundraising platform. Please take a moment to donate some money to support the food trucks as they continue to help re-build the city. You can find out more information on the effort and make a donation here. Having visited several of the devastated communities of New York City ourselves, we know the incredible value a hot meal delivered by caring people has for people who have lost so much.

Volunteers in Coney Island
Volunteers unload and sort supplies for people in Coney Island (credit: Andrew Gustafson).

This is the very definition of community – when people get together and help each other in the wake of horrible tragedy. And this is just another reason why food trucks are such an asset to the communities of New York. We’re very grateful that they continue to work every day to serve and better this city.

Just a few further notes on disaster recovery in New York City and the wider region, and how you can help. Donations of money, food, and clothes have been pouring into the relief organizations, shelters, and distribution centers around the city, but the need for specific items and volunteer labor at different locations changes by the hour. We have been doing our best to spread the word about needs through our Twitter and Facebook pages, as have countless other organizations and individuals; this has been an invaluable tool for directing resources to where they are needed most.

Occupy Sandy offers opportunities to get involved right away, either by volunteering, giving money, or donating items that are in immediate need. If you’d like to find out how to help struggling Staten Islanders, Staten Island Recovers has set up a useful portal; the Rockaway Relief Facebook page offers real-time updates for where and how to get involved in that struggling region; and if you would like to help people in Coney Island, especially elderly residents who remain without heat or power, Jewish service organizations like COJECO and UJA are in need of volunteers and donations. If you would like to help a family get the help they need and get back on their feet, Family to Family has set up a sponsorship program. And it’s not just the NYC Food Truck Association that’s getting hot meals out to people – the Red Hook Food Vendors (which include the last two Vendy Cup winners) are raising money for this effort as well (donate here). Lastly, with the ongoing gas shortage in the region, vehicles with fuel to deliver supplies are still desperately needed, so if you’d be willing to offer up your precious gas, time, and labor, many of these organizations are in need.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the ways you can help or the communities that are struggling, so we encourage you to stay involved, as the effects of this disaster will continue to reverberate in the weeks and months to come. Thank you for your support!

Since 2010, the team at Turnstile Tours has worked with some of New York York City’s best street vendors to offer our Food Cart Tours – in Manhattan’s Financial District every Wednesday at 12pm, and Midtown every Friday at 2pm. All tours are offered in support of the Street Vendor Project.