Calzones on Wheels for a Good Cause

The Community Table launches its very own food truck

Nealy Corcoran

CALZONES FOR A CAUSE. The Community Table, which provides a free meal every day for members of the Chippewa Valley community, started its own food truck service to act as a mobile billboard for their services.
CALZONES FOR A CAUSE. The Community Table, which provides a free meal every day for members of the Chippewa Valley community, started its own food truck service to act as a mobile billboard for their services.

The Community Table recently announced the newest addition to its outreach program: This spring they celebrated the launch of a food truck. With the help of local organizations and a diverse group of volunteers, throughout the summer the food truck will travel around to low-income neighborhoods serving pizza, calzones and other treats. The purpose is to promote services such as food pantries, job training programs, and homeless shelters. In addition to a tasty lunch or snack, the food truck will give out free bus passes to the neighborhoods they visit and at various events throughout the Chippewa Valley.

In the spring of 2018, local entrepreneur Mark Steil approached Community Table Executive Director Michelle Koehn and offered to donate his food truck to the organization. Before donating, Steil had operated the truck as Fired Up Pizza. According to Koehn, prior to accepting the donation, The Community Table got a “crash course” in food truck management. They helped run the Fired Up Pizza truck last year during Volume One’s Food Truck Friday, an event now held at Phoenix Park in downtown Eau Claire. The experience gave Koehn the chance to meet with other food truck vendors and local non-profits with a social enterprise model. The 14-foot trailer is adorned with information about The Community Table’s meal service, and serves as a mobile billboard for the organization.

“Local farmers and growers were looking for a meaningful way to contribute,” Koehn said. “With their involvement, over half of the ingredients used to make the pizza and calzones are locally sourced.”

Since last summer, TCT members have made about 1,000 pizza slices and calzones to get to where they are today, perfecting recipes that are delicious and interesting. The primary purpose of the food truck is to promote the important social services offered by many local agencies and nonprofits and to serve as an occasional fundraising outlet. The plan is for the menu to evolve based on the growing season and agricultural trends. Most recently, they tested recipes for Korean bulgogi calzones and Thai peanut chicken calzones. The menu is available online and will be continuously updated through the summer.

Established in 1993, The Community Table is a charitable organization that serves one free meal each day of the year and educates the public to issues of hunger in our community. The ability to provide these meals is a result of fostering relationships with other local organizations along with community members who generously volunteer time and money. TCT relies entirely on the help of volunteers to feed the hungry. For more information, visit thecommunitytable.org, call (715) 835-4977, or stop by The Community Table at 320 Putnam St.