First off, thank you all for your incredible support. You have made and are making it possible for 500 + people everyday to eat a hot, nutritious meal. Secondly, thank you so much to our amazing restaurant teams that have generously dedicated staff, resources, and time to this project. Big ups, hugs and shout outs to Jenn James and the Breslin staff and Allie at Silkstone for taking on so much in the world of logistics, to Chef Sam Talbot for executing and refining our menu, and to Craig and Uncle Mario for keeping the truck running and food cooking.
Here we are just over a month into our service. Sandy has turned much of our surrounding areas upside down. As much as we were struck by the damage from ocean to bay side across the entire Rockaway peninsula, we have been heartened by the tremendous grass roots distribution efforts that continue to take place. The Rockaway Surf Club and the team at Veggie Island over on 96th St. have been instrumental in distributing badly needed living and cleaning supplies.
The herculean effort of the many civil servants, especially the sanitation and police departments, laid a solid and much needed foundation for recovery.
In the days after the storm when all business were closed and the power was out we saw that warm food was the most basic, pervasive need. Robbie and myself started organizing food runs out there from restaurants in the city. However, by the time we would get that food up to folks, sometimes 20 floors up in buildings without running elevators, the food was no longer warm. We realized a food truck was needed. We dove in, threw caution to the wind, contacted restaurateurs we knew, and the Rockaway Plate Lunch Truck was born.
We have been operational over a month, feeding 500 people a day 6 days a week with a different NYC restaurant pitching in each day as the chef team. The experience has been full of realizations. Often we saw evidence of improvement in one area only to receive an urgent call from Pastor Tillman or another organizer directing us to a building that had not received any food or other help. Shout outs to Pastor Tillman, Michelle Cortez, Joe Termini and Ms. Doe over at the community center for aiding us with our distribution and set up. It has been hard work but also a pleasure feeding the residents and servants of Rockaway. Highlights have included some bigger events with thousands showing up at the community center and a memorable Thanksgiving dinner served at Challenge Prep Charter School.
The landscape is constantly changing and as part of that we are exploring eventually shifting our efforts into Rockaway Plate Lunch becoming a sustainable non-profit business that uses the truck as a means to teach, train and empower residents of Rockaway with a mentoring program provided by the same restaurants that are now cooking. We have had a lot of support out there from the local clergy, schools, and elected officials who support this idea. More on this as it develops
Mike D and Robert McKinley