Food & Drink

Food trucks, community members to rally behind State College nonprofit during annual event

Enjoy some great food for a good cause on Oct. 6 at Housing Transitions’ third annual Food Truck Rally in the Valley. The family-friendly event takes place on the 200 Block of South Allen Street, noon-3 p.m., with a portion of all food sales benefiting Housing Transitions and Centre House.

“Because we are a family shelter at Centre House, we’re really excited to (offer) a family atmosphere,” said Ginger Cain, development and community relations coordinator at Housing Transitions. “We’re going to have activities and music, live entertainment and lots of good food. We have at least, at this point, 10 different food vendors that are based locally and known in the area.”

Food trucks set to participate in the Rally in the Valley so far include Brazilian Munchies, Real Taste Food Truck, Happy Dishes, Rosie’s Pierogies, Doan’s Bones, The Weiner Wagon, Bonnie Blue’s Smokeys & Sweets and more.

“The first year, the original event, it hadn’t really been done yet so we weren’t really sure what kind of response we would have from the community, but it was well received and very well attended,” Cain said. “All of our food trucks actually sold out. ... So we realized we needed to grow the amount of food trucks that were invited.”

This year, Cain and her team will be keeping track of event attendance, to better gauge how to grow the event next year and accommodate more attendees.

Live entertainment will be provided by Hops & Vines, a local acoustic duo that makes frequent appearances at Housing Transitions events. Additional entertainment is provided by Fraser Street Saxes, a group of State College-area high school and middle school students who reached out to event organizers for the opportunity to participate.

Cain says the event also now includes some “carnival-type activities for children and the young at heart,” such as a ring toss, prize wheel, basketball shoot and dunk tank.

While the Food Truck Rally in the Valley is fun for families, though, the family cause it supports is vital to the community. Not only does the event financially support Housing Transitions through the 15% of sales that all food trucks are donating, but it also raises awareness about what Housing Transitions is and does.

“We’re always looking for ways to raise awareness about homelessness and people that are housing insecure in Centre County specifically, because it really is an unseen issue that our community deals with. We’re serving the most vulnerable population,” Cain said, noting that the Centre House shelter is the only family shelter in Centre County that accepts both families and children. The shelter is staffed 24 hours, every day of the year.

Food Truck Rally in the Valley is a way to “go in strong” to the winter season, Cain said, when more people will be seeking shelter and the help of Housing Transitions. In addition to learning about the programs, attendees of the Oct. 6 event can also learn how to contribute financially or through volunteering.

With winter fast approaching, there are more needs at the shelter, Cain said.

“We also do have a wish list that we keep on our website of items that literally help keep the shelter open, because they’re donated and then we don’t have to spend money from fundraising for things that stock our shelves for our residents,” Cain said.

The event couldn’t happen without its volunteers, and Housing Transitions partners with Penn State on-campus organizations to source some of those individuals.

“The Panhellenic Council is organizing (volunteer) sign ups and we’ll have volunteer training prior to the event. They’re always a great partner for us, getting sororities and fraternities to help out in a positive way in our community. We have several other student groups from on campus that will be volunteering some of their participants to help us. This is a very volunteer-heavy event,” Cain said. “Since this is, of course, a fundraiser for a nonprofit, we’re trying to go in with little to no costs. We have sponsors that are sponsoring the activities so we consider them our volunteers as well.”

Cain encourages families to just “come out ready to have a good time.” The closed street will provide a safe space for families to play, eat and enjoy the live entertainment, and seating and tables are provided.

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