May 29, 2014 -- A Minnesota food truck is filling local hearts with joy without striking up a single burner.
That's because Finnegans Reverse Food Truck doesn't actually serve meals. But it will gladly accept them.
The giant green mobile is a charity drive on wheels, collecting non-perishables and monetary donations for those in need.
Launched this spring by Finnegans beer in partnership with the Emergency Foodshelf Network’s Harvest for the Hungry Program, the Reverse Food Truck has already resulted in close to 5,700 pounds of produce being delivered to hungry individuals. Finnegans' goal is to raise $50,000 by October.
"All summer long we are bringing it out to local events," said Jacquie Berglund, CEO of Finnegans, Inc. "And we'll be putting it on a schedule with a social media campaign so people can follow it."
The Reverse Food Truck was a natural expansion project for the company, which operates as a sudsy sustainable business with social impact. Since its founding in 2000, 100% of the profits from Finnegans' beer--an Irish amber and blonde ale, both sold in the Midwest--have been funneled to Finnegans Community Fund, a 501(c), to support regional hunger alleviation programs.
"The model is very similar to Newman's Own," said Berglund, whose prior career involved stints at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in France, as well as for a Minnesota group of pubs before she decided to become an entrepreneur.
Berglund's initial inspiration came from hearing a speech by Share Our Strength's founder Billy Shore. In the 14 years since then, Finnegans has raised over half a million dollars and donated 91,000 pounds of produce, she said.
Part of the reason it works so well, she added, is that she keeps her partners nearby.
"In addition to raising funds, and collecting non-perishables, we're also supporting local growers to get organic produce to those in need--and we have a lot of farmers in this area!" she said. "So the wealth that we create in the community goes back to the community."
Updates on where the Reverse Food Truck will roll to next, and how to donate from afar, can be found at finnegans.org