Oklahoma Food Trucks Bring Mobile Meals to Families in Need

These Tulsa food trucks are in the fast lane to stop signs of hunger.

The first day was the worst day. But, says Eileen Bradshaw, executive director of the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, as soon as the Mobile Eatery pulled up to the low-income apartment complex, she knew the relentless sleet and biting wind weren’t going to interfere with the very first stop on the food truck’s mission.

“The kids came streaming out of their homes in no coats and, in some cases, no shoes,” she says. “I know there’s a need, but that was just kind of harsh proof that these kids are hungry kids.”

How the Mobile Eatery Works

Since that day in 2013, the Food Bank’s two trucks have been a year-round beacon of hope for Tulsa-area children and adults in need. Grocers, gardeners and local restaurants donate all the fresh ingredients that executive chef Jeff Marlow and his crew use to create nutritious, restaurant-quality meals.

full view of the side of the Mobile Eatery food truckCourtesy Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma

The menu depends entirely upon what’s been donated. Jeff says that’s his challenge and his joy. One day he and volunteers may serve pad thai to older adults; the next day they may serve a top sirloin dinner a group of struggling veterans.

The Mobile Eatery’s Mission

The trucks roll into “food deserts” where both poverty and lack of transportation make it difficult for residents to buy healthy food, providing about 400 meals per day. During the summer, children who typically rely on their schools to provide breakfast and lunch get the nutritious food they need from the trucks. Since all food ingredients on the trucks are donated, entire families can dine together, without the age restrictions that often can be attached to government-funded food programs.

Toh Pull Quote Ice Cream Man Marlow

“I love that helping people can be so much fun,” Jeff says. “Kids run to us like we’re the ice cream man.”

Food banks are doing what they can to fight hunger in the face of the pandemic, but they need help. Want to know what you can do? Visit feedingamerica.org/covid19 to learn more about Feeding America’s pandemic response, and find a food bank near you.

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Nan Bialek
When she was in fourth grade, a local newspaper published one of Nan’s stories and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Today, as a freelancer, she writes features and website content about inspiring people who are trying to change the world. When she’s not telling their stories, Nan enjoys getting her hands dirty in the garden, reading novels and hunting for quirky vintage décor.