Food Trucks and Fundraiser — Food for a Cause

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

June 29, 2023

Event organizer Rita Erwin checks out a menu at one of the Food Truck Friday events at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Morro Bay. Photo submitted

For many folks Friday signals the end of the work week. If preparing an elaborate meal for a picky family, guests visiting for the weekend or for yourself doesn’t top your list of ways to relax, head on over to St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Morro Bay and grab some eats at Food Truck Fridays — a fundraiser for the church.

“Years ago, we were visiting our daughter in Los Angeles and her church did the food truck Fridays, and I just thought it was a neat idea,” said event organizer Rita Erwin, the chairperson of the resource development team for St. Timothy’s. “Everybody loves food trucks. I’ve gotten very positive feedback from people about the event, the chillness and fun.”

Every other Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. about five food trucks selling everything from pizza to sushi and non-alcoholic beverages arrives and serves up close to 150 people alfresco style while a live bluegrass/folk band plays. There are tables and chairs available, or folks can take food to go. 

“One of the difficulties with chairing this is that I have to go around and try all the food trucks. It’s quite a sacrifice,” Ewrin said with a laugh.

Her goal for the foodie event is three-prong, raise needed funds, give the church an expanded presence in the area, and build bonds among the community. Erwin said all three goals have been met. Funds raised so far paid for the permit, so the remaining will go directly to the church. Members of the church and non-parishioners fill the parking lot every other Friday, and friendships have formed. 

Erwin tells the story of two people who had “words” between each other on the social media site Nextdoor, but that relationship changed one Friday evening.

“They met in person and found common ground at one of the food truck events,” Erwin said. “They talked and mended fences, which I was ecstatic about.” 

Food Truck Fridays are just one way church members hope to raise about $20,000 for repairs and upkeep. 

“The proceeds from these events will be used for our building and maintenance account, as we have installed solar and will be installing a non-harmful bird deterrent program to make sure the solar panels stay as clean as possible,” Erwin said. “We had the solar put on a couple of years ago. Then last year, it wasn’t producing as much as it was supposed to because the seagulls decided to nest up there and then leave a lot of residue.”

As with any event of a large size, there are rules to abide. St. Timothy’s had to get a permit from the city for about $700 to hold Food Truck Fridays. It allows for a max of five food trucks at 10 events over six months. Not so common for event protocol, the church also had to get permission from the Diocese of Monterey.  

“The attorney said if we just charged space rent [to the vendors], then we were basically running a business and that might endanger the nonprofit status of the church, legally,” Erwin said. “The church has to sell tickets, and then the people take tickets to the food trucks for the food. At the end of the night, we pay the vendors what they brought in, and then they donate at least 10% back to us. Some of the vendors have been very generous and given more than 10%.”

That said, cash is the only form of payment taken at the events. 

The food truck events takes place from 4 to 7 at St. Timothy’s Catholic Church, 962 Piney Way, Morro Bay. The remaining schedule is June 30, July 14, July 28, Aug. 1, Aug. 25, Sept. 1 and  Sept. 15.

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