Jacquie Berglund and the Beauty of the Reverse Food Truck

100% of the profits from Berglund’s beer brand Finnegans are directed towards food banks for the hungry and accelerator programmes for social entrepreneurs.

05.09.2019 | by Christy Romer
Photo by Finnegans
Photo by Finnegans

Go to any major event these days and you’ll be sure to find three things: people, alcohol and food trucks.

We just can’t get enough. Handcrafted Neapolitan pizza, smothered buffalo wings; steamed and spicy dumplings. There’s food for every taste — and, increasingly, every conscience.

Floating around the American Midwest is a lime-green truck with the word ‘Reverse’ pasted on the side. It pulls up in parking lots, music events and weddings, much like a regular truck. It has a menu, but it doesn’t offer food.

Instead, it takes food in — sometimes in exchange for beer samples.

The ‘Reverse Food Truck’ is the brainchild of Jacquie Berglund, the head of Finnegans beer. She’s spent two decades building a business that spreads wealth around, helping those most in need.

Finnegans for food

Following the lead of humanitarian and personal hero Billy Shore, creator of the No Kid Hungry programme, 100 percent of the profits from the beer business are donated to projects that tackle poverty and hunger. The money is used to buy organic produce from local farmers, which is then distributed to food banks in the area.

The food truck is simply a continuation of this policy. Punters can call for the truck to turn up, then order from the menu (anything from a $2 donation, which provides food for one day, to a $100 donation, which feeds a family of four for two weeks) or donate their own food.

In the first three months of operations, the initiative collected the equivalent of 42,000 meals to help families in need.

“I’m a basic needs gal,” Berglund tells Freethink magazine, “We live in the wealthiest country in the world. It’s a crime that people can’t meet their basic needs.”

This is particularly important in the US: One in six people in the country don’t have enough food for a healthy lifestyle.

But, Berglund is not interested in keeping the idea to herself. As interest and media coverage of her reverse truck initiative has grown, she’s started giving away the graphics and plans, so that others throughout the country could run reverse food trucks of their own. There are now similar initiatives operating in more than five areas of the US.

Finnegans also runs a socially focused business catalyst, Finnovation Lab. Its 2019-20 cohort includes a project to revolutionise post-operation care for transgender women, a business focused on the education and advancement of refugees, and a social programme to support families to co-parent after the end of their relationship or marriage.

There are always businesses looking to do things different — to turn their good idea into something that benefits the wider community.

Or, as Berglund puts it, “Some food trucks serve burritos. This one serves the greater good.”

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