Young and Hungry

Help Wanted: Biofuel Mechanic to Trick-Out D.C.’s Newest Food Truck

The latest addition to the D.C. mobile food scene is a 28-foot-long, 1996 model Crown International school bus. But this isn't your average food truck, it's a cruiser with a conscience. Arcadia Center for Food and Sustainable Agriculture recently raised nearly $15,ooo through a Kickstarter campaign to create the first "mobile food market." Packaged as a project to bring fresh produce to those who need it most, the mobile market hopes to visit D.C's historically under-served Wards 5,7 and 8 on a weekly basis.

If that’s not enough, the bus boasts some tricked-out siding that folds out like shelving, a refrigeration unit for perishables, plus a sink and more storage inside. Oh, and yeah, it will run on eco-friendly biofuels.

It's so ambitious that executive director Pat Lute likens the whole mobile market project to building a house. But for now, it looks like they’re still working on the foundation. Although Lute is “very hopeful” and “committed” to starting this summer, the bus isn’t running yet. That's because Arcadia is still trying to find a mechanic that can rebuild the engine to run vegetable oil.

“For some reason, not a gazillion people know how to do that,” Lute says, adding, “maybe your post will inspire some mechanics to come forward. They do exist on the Eastern seaboard, and we’re still sussing them out.”

But once they do get out there, Lute identifies Deanwood and LeDroit Park as areas they'll be visiting. As for specific areas in Wards 7 and 8, she was immediately unsure. Arcadia does plan to offer alternative payment options including SNAP, WIC, and FMNP. That is, once they get through the lengthy bureaucratic process that allows them to actually accept such payments.

At least the organization's heart is in the proverbial right place, even if the logistics aren't quite there yet.

Photo by Pimlico Badger/Creative Commons Attribution License

  • Amber McLaughlin

    If this bus has a diesel engine it does not require mechanical adaptation for biodiesel. You have to change the filters much more often at first, but that should be it.
    I gave Erin Teal Littlestar some good resources for biodiesel. The trick is finding your resource for clean biodiesel, not rebuilding an engine.

  • Pressure Canners

    This is definitely a great addition to any city. I can't wait to hear if this project was able to take flight and if so how well it is (or is not) doing. Will you be posting an update about this?

  • Megan Arellano

    I definitely hope to follow up as it's appropriate-- stick around!

  • modi

    this is so tight. keep us in the loop, meg!!! tweet me if anything develops!!! @DCtoBC