How Food Trucks are Bringing Maximus Communities Together
Food trucks have long been a staple of the American culinary landscape as vehicles of culture, diversity and community — quite literally. In early 2020 when the first shelter-in-place orders were announced, Maximus’ Community Relations Management & Brand Execution team desired to find a way to bring great, local flavors directly to community residents. This endeavor was a way of not only addressing travel restrictions, but also granting folks with engagement events to look forward to during stressful and uncertain times.
This plan was an element of the initial stages of Maximus’ Community Life programs launched throughout the pandemic that services residents and pulls together local employees and vendors into tighter-knit communities. According to Director of Community Relations Rachel Johnson, “We very much wanted the trucks that served our communities to be successful and for the residents to enjoy the food. For example, at The Cove, we have a high number of residents with strict food preferences. So we always make sure that trucks have a wide range of offerings to serve all residents.”
The dual benefit of feeding and enriching communities under lockdown was also the great boon to the food truck community this program turned out to be. Johnson mentions, “Many of these trucks were booked every day at large corporations around the Bay Area for lunch and dinner service. But when COVID hit, they lost that stream of income. Now, we can benefit and connect the community as a whole, including our residents and the food trucks.”
Marketing and Events Coordinator Damian Calvillo also weighed in on how Maximus’ prior program testing played a key role in current partnerships: “Last year we had a pilot project with rotating food trucks at Sharon Green. Through that period we were able to get a better understanding of the food truck industry.” This previous experience evolved into better collaboration with food truck owners and building relationships with key vendors.
Folks from all around Maximus’ communities have come to love this program. According to Johnson, residents are always asking for their favorite trucks to return or inquiring about what’s next up on the schedule. Just a handful of trucks that have visited Maximus neighborhoods include The Chairman, Cielito Lindo, Llamas Peruvian, Capelo’s BBQ, and Casablanca.
Both Johnson and Calvillo’s favorite vendor experience so far has been inviting wood-fired pizza business Mozzeria to Maximus’ Sharon Green community. Johnson remarked, “I was unaware that they were a 100% deaf-owned and run business. So, when I first met them onsite, I was so worried that I hadn’t let residents know. In true Sharon Green fashion, the residents were so warm and welcoming to the Mozzeria staff and the evening went off without a hitch!” Mozzeria was created with the aim to provide customers a welcoming, memorable, and visual environment to engage with deaf communities while working to increase career placement opportunities for deaf people.
Image: Mozzeria Website
The team has also built upon the original idea of food trucks by extending food and beverage partnerships further into the community. In celebration of Black History Month, Maximus partnered with local brewery Almanac Beer and supported the worldwide initiative Black is Beautiful, which raises awareness of injustices people of color face daily. For those first in line at Maximus’ food truck events, residents received a complimentary can of Black is Beautiful, a decadent stout. In turn, Almanac donated 100% of beer profits to Black Lives Matter and the National Black Farmers Association.
According to both Johnson and Calvillo, food truck programming at our communities has not been without its challenges. Adapting to ever-changing restrictions, meeting demand and ensuring the highest quality of sanitation has kept Maximus’ community relations team busy and on the frontier of creative solutions.
Turning this original idea into a regularly-scheduled “Food Truck Friday” for various communities represents Maximus’ long-term-facing effort to safely bring people together, even in unusual times. Calvillo emphasizes that the team’s number one goal is honoring community care: “By creating a program around something exciting and delicious that the community is able to partake in together, a space is created for neighbors to engage with one-in-another.” Johnson also added, “Connecting local business directly to our residents is exactly what Maximus’ mission is. We constantly ask ourselves how we can support our communities – not just our properties. Food is a huge part of our lives and what better way to bring people together?”