Unusual Entrant in Food Truck Scene

Fort Worth has an unusual new entrant in the food truck scene: Arlington Heights United Methodist Church.

The West Side church on Sunday officially launched Five & Two - a take on Jesus’ feeding of the multitude with five loaves and two fishes - in a refurbished 1996 Chevy plumbing truck.

“It’s a full commercial kitchen on wheels,” Allen Lutes, associate pastor and director of the church’s new food truck ministry, said after a dedication ceremony with hot dogs and chips.

The church sees the food truck as a way to take its ministry to people, rather than rely on them to come to the church. “How much more meaningful if we meet them where they are?” Lutes said during a Sunday sermon.

Beginning June 18, and on the third Thursday of each month, Five & Two will begin serving dinner to the 30 homeless veterans who live at the Presbyterian Night Shelter’s Patriot House off of East Lancaster Avenue.

In July, the truck will be at the Night Shelter’s women and children’s unit once a month. “This is going to be an opportunity to do more,” to serve as mentors and work with children, Lutes said.

The food truck will also appear at more conventional events and locations, but with an unusual model the church is developing: giving away food such as pulled pork tacos and Cuban sandwiches for donations. “Every $5 spent serves two other people,” and so on, Lutes said.

The truck will appear at the Mayfest volunteer wrap-up party, Lutes said. The church is working on appearing at the Thistle Hill food truck park. The church is also considering converting a parking lot it owns on the south side of Camp Bowie Boulevard across the street from the church into a small park where the food truck could operate.

Another idea in the works, Lutes said: Running cooking classes off the truck in which church volunteers teach attendees how to cook in a crock pot, and then give them the pot.

And the church also wants to ready itself to send Five & Two into emergency areas to serve first responders and victims. “We’ll need special disaster training,” Lutes said.

Five & Two has already appeared at three community events and served about 1,800 people in the run-up to the official launch.

The church has raised about $50,000 to launch the food truck program, including two golf tournaments.

Kroger has signed on as a corporate sponsor and agreed to donate food to the truck’s events and missions. Consumers who hold the store’s Kroger Plus affinity card can link it to “AHUMC” online, and make donations to the ministry.

The church is building its volunteer team for the food truck. So far, 64 people have signed up and become certified food handlers. Lutes, a chef by training and background and a former restaurant owner, is the required Texas certified food manager.

About a dozen church members already know how to handle food, Lutes said.


Photo credits: Scott Nishimura