Young Professionals aren't just out focusing hard on their work, but they're also giving their time charities and non-profits. This Wednesday in Cincinnati, if you stroll down to Fountain Square you'll see it surrounded by 11 food trucks and you'll smell the warmth of some tasty food! But, why? Well, it's all to support Josh Cares and its mission to provide companionship and comfort to children hospitalized in critical and chronic care units at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Proceeds from the event help fund the work of Josh Cares Child Life Specialists who are dedicated to the care of these children.
Food Truckin for Josh Cares is an event planned and executed by 15 young professionals in the Cincinnati area. I had the opportunity to chat with Tate Lucas and Ashley Carrico who volunteer their time on the Josh Cares YP Council. Find out how they make the Food Truckin for Josh Cares a reality...
Q. Out of all the different possibilities, why a food truck event?
Tate: We wanted to do something that connected with young professionals in Cincinnati. We were all excited about food trucks, trying new ones and sharing our experiences, so it was a natural fit.
Ashley: Food Trucks are certainly becoming more prevalent in Cincinnati, but there are still relatively few 'showcases' of these delicious mobile eateries - and especially not many opportunities to sample multiple food trucks right in the center of downtown on Fountain Square during the weekday lunch hour! The Young Professional Council embraced the idea of hositng a food truck event in downtown Cincinnati to celebrate the Cincinnati food scene while driving increased reach and awareness of the Josh Cares name and mission.
Q. How far in advance does the team start planning the event?
Tate: We started meeting in November to plan this year's event.
Ashley: A sub-team of the Young Professional Council begins planning the event about 8 months before the big day with the larger YP Council becoming involved about 6 months out. There is a lot of planning that goes on to make this very exciting and unique event a reality!
Q. How big is your team? - What role do you play on the team?
Ashley: There are about 15 members on the YP Council. Tate and I act as co-chairs of the Marketing Committee. Our core responsibilities including design and distribution of all event promotional materials as well as working closely with Rockfish, which is providing $50,000 in pro-bono services for Josh Cares, on creating and implementing a digital marketing strategy.
Q. What all goes into planning a food truck event?
Tate: There is a ton of preparation that goes into the event. We are split into teams:
- Marketing to promote the event (social media, news outlets, website, print materials)
- Logistics (planning the day-of, volunteer coordination, administration)
- Food Truck committee (recruiting and managing food trucks, planning the layout of the trucks on the square)
- Sponsorships (building relationships with sponsors for the event)
In addition to the Marketing Committee, we also have Sponsorship, Food Truck and Logistics Committees. There are very big "to dos" such as securing food truck vendors and event sponsors, but also a whole host of other details including volunteer coordination, day of programming, celebrity judging, communications, promotions, interaction with community influencers, VIP preparations and more!
Q. What kind of extras do you have to focus on because the it supports a non-profit?
Tate: A big part of it is raising awareness for Josh Cares and the amazing work they do at CCHMC. We don't only want people to know about the event and get excited about it, but we also want to share the mission of Josh Cares and tell the stories of the lives they've impacted.
Ashley: Above all else, I want to ensure that we are promoting the Josh Cares organization and its mission through this event. I am beyond thrilled that we can raise funds for the organization through such a fun (and tasty!) means, but there is a big emphasis in our marketing plans to ensure that everyone who comes out or hears about the event understands that it is so much more than a food truck festival where they can sample some of Cincinnati's finest - it is an event that funds a mission to provide companionship and comfort to children enduring lengthy hospitalizations without a family member who is able to be with them consistently.
Q. What is your favorite part about working this event?
Tate: I love working with the YP Council and getting to know each other in a team environment. By the time the day of the event comes, it's just a ton of fun because we can see the results of months of hard work.
Ashley: There are so many things! I love seeing how vibrant Fountain Square is the day of the event and experiencing the energy from the crowd enjoying this signature event. I am also so excited to try as many as possible of the food truck offerings myself! But my favorite part about working the event has to be talking with event attendees about the organization, many of whom are hearing about Josh Cares for the first time.
Q. Which food truck are you most excited to eat at?
Tate: I've tried every truck that we had last year and they were all great. This year, I'm excited to try Texas Joe's because I love Mexican food and I haven't had it yet.
Ashley: That's a tough one! I think I'll have to say C'est Cheese - grilled cheese and macaroni and cheese are in a constant battle for the top slot as my favorite food and C'est Cheese certainly delivers a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.
If you're in the Cincinnati/Tri-state area, stop by Fountain Square tomorrow and grab some lunch! Be sure to snap some photos and share your experience through social media using the hashtags, #FoodTruckin and #JoshCares.