Meals for Truckers initiative a success in 2020, but unlikely to return | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Meals for Truckers initiative a success in 2020, but unlikely to return

Owner Deanna Bell with her chef, Harley, outside the Cookshack Cravings truck.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Deanna Bell
February 05, 2021 - 6:00 AM

A Kamloops food truck had massive success when the owner collaborated with the B.C. Trucking Association to provide meals to professional drivers this past summer.

Cookshack Cravings fed hungry truckers along the Trans-Canada Highway in Kamloops from April through to the first week of August. Nearly every meal was paid for through donations.

"We loved it and the truckers were so happy," Cookshack Cravings owner Deanna Bell said.

The project had plenty of support from local businesses.

"Everybody that had anything to do with trucking was donating," she said.

READ MORE: Food trucks for B.C. truckers project to launch nationwide following outpouring of support, donations

While the official donations weren't enough to fund meals seven days a week, Bell said the tips and donations received from drivers throughout the week made up the difference.

Bell, along with Greg Munden with the B.C. Trucking Association and a Kamloops business owner, collaborated to get the project started in the spring of 2020.

"We were the pilot with the association, Greg (Munden) was just sort of winging it at first. He got sponsors to go through the association."

Then it caught on at other locations around the province.

Munden says the project gathered roughly $95,000 in donations while the website was actively accepting, which was used to fund meals in a few different locations.

Dave Earle, president and CEO of the B.C. Trucking Association, says they started a website and called the project "Meals for Truckers". Then they found multiple locations including Chilliwack, Kelowna and Hope for food trucks, but none were as successful as Cookshack Cravings in Kamloops, according to Earle.

"('Meals For Truckers') always had a shelf-life," Earle said. "The brick-and-mortar restaurants and truck spots pay property taxes and have regular facilities for our drivers. The project was meant to fill the gap until lights were back on."

READ MORE: Over $60,000 donated to Kamloops Meals for Truckers initiative, gives truckers free meals

The food truck industry often depends on community events to drive their business, but when public health orders deemed it unsafe for large public gatherings, the need presented by B.C. truckers filled the gap for Cookshack Cravings.

Bell was disappointed when she was forced to move locations in the first week of August, but the attention she gathered did help get her truck hired to visit other worksites around Kamloops including Peterbilt Pacific and Tolko.

"In March we heard about the virus and that it could be dangerous, but we didn't know that much about it. Then suddenly one day we were wearing masks, gloves and no one could touch the condiments anymore," Bell said, recounting how suddenly their plans for the 2020 season had to adapt.

There have been rumblings from truckers, according to Munden, concerned about a possible return to the restrictions from last year. But the truckers association is optimistic so far that usual services that truckers use will remain open safely and there won't be a need to operate the website anymore.

Deanna Bell isn't counting on Meals for Truckers to return yet either.

As vaccine rollouts continue, she hopes that sports events she frequents can safely return this season, and Cookshack Cravings will be there to feed hungry athletes and their fans. 

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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