Food truck company seeks help to feed those displaced by wildfire

Laney Griffo
Off the Grid provides fresh meals for people impacted by wildfires.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — A Bay Area food truck and catering company is seeking local businesses to help feed those who may be displaced by wildfire this season.

Off the Grid, which was founded over a decade ago, started by organizing food trucks together around the Bay Area. It then grew into a catering company.

“With the fires in 2017, we saw a huge cry for help to get food out to people who had been displaced by fire,” said Ashleigh Bilodeaux, director of marketing for Off the Grid.

This led to the founding of Off the Grid’s Food Responders program.

The program works with local, state and federal organizations, to craft plans that will support food-insecure individuals in the wake of natural disasters and other emergency food needs.

“There is always going to be a need for emergency food response,” Bilodeaux said.

Off the Grid has worked with the state and American Red Cross to identify more than 40 counties, including El Dorado and Nevada counties, that are expected to be the hardest hit locations of wildfire season this year.

Off the Grid is interested in tapping local businesses that would like to help when disaster strikes. By working with local food businesses — such as food truck operators, local catering companies, and restaurants — the company said it can quickly deploy food in the wake of an emergency.

For restaurants and food companies interested in participating, Off the Grid and Red Cross helps create a readiness plan which includes meeting places and plans to quickly scale up menus.

Through the program, Off the Grid aims to give community members fresh meals during the emergency.

“Fresh food can really have a positive impact on mental health,” said Bilodeaux.

The Food Responders work with food providers to quickly increase their menus.

In 2020, the Food Responders programs helped nearly one million people in the Bay Area, and provided more than $10 million to restaurants and food truck operators who have been hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic and other natural disasters, said a press release.

Companies in the Tahoe Basin, including Truckee Tavern and Grill, Blue Coyote Bar & Grill, Old Town Tap, The Real Curry Queen, Red Moose Cafe and Bassetts-Station have already pledged support. However, Off the Grid is seeking to add more than 200 food responders throughout California, bringing its fleet of small food businesses to more than 400. Food responders include restaurants, food truck operators, catering businesses and cottage food purveyors.

“Its locals supporting locals,” Blilodeaux said. “It truly takes a village to get through a disaster.”

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