A church in Ballantyne is bringing an urban food trend to south Charlotte.For 10 years, South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church hosted an annual fall festival, complete with hot dogs, homemade baked goods and bounce houses. Church members donated most of the food, and volunteers provided the manpower. The event had drawn several hundred people, but the church began looking for a new way to reach out to the community. Two years ago, the church invited the Snyder Family Band bluegrass group to perform at its fall festival. The Lexington-based group features 14-year-old Samantha Snyder and her brother, 18-year-old Zeb Snyder, as well as their parents and 8-year-old brother. This year, the church has lined up four food trucks for the event. Food trucks have become a fixture at lunchtime in uptown Charlotte and at other events, and recently they have forayed into a few church events. Rarely do the food trucks come to Ballantyne at times when families can try them out, said Matt Garfield, SMPC director of communications. “We thought it was kind of a chance to bring this whole movement to families,” Garfield said. “Trucks might be interested in building their market this way.” Food trucks, which serve food from kitchens inside large vans, have developed a large following for Food Truck Friday, a weekly event in an open lot in South End that draws many families and young people. Each food truck’s fare usually is built around a specialty food, whether it’s cupcakes, barbecue or cheese-based dishes. Providence United Methodist Church, which is at the corner of Providence and Sharon Amity roads, began hosting a monthly “Food Truck Family Jam” in May. Each event has drawn about 1,500 people. “It’s gone great, better than we had expected,” said Donna Rogers, PUMC director of communications and events. “We’ve seen a lot of new faces, and a lot of the community is coming out. “We’re bringing it to an area that doesn’t see food trucks,” she said. “A lot of people have told us they’ve only seen the food trucks on television.” The food trucks allow church volunteers who usually spend time cooking and serving food during events to enjoy the event, Rogers said. “The trucks do the work, for the most part,” Rogers said. Food Truck Family Jam includes inflatables for children and a live band. Many people bring blankets and chairs, and enjoy the music while they eat. Rogers said the events are a good opportunity to bring people onto the church campus and let them know about upcoming church events. The next Food Truck Family Jam is on Aug. 9. To get the word out about its inaugural food truck event, South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church has posted information on social media and mailed postcards. They also plan to hang a big banner on the church’s property on Bryant Farms Road. The food trucks will arrive at 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 2, and the church will host traditional games and activities such as hula hoops, bocce ball and Frisbee. The Holy Rollers, a band comprised of church members that plays Beatles-style rock ‘n’ roll, will perform. The Snyder Family Band will play in the church sanctuary at 7 p.m. The concert is free, and the entire event is open to the community. South Mecklenburg Presbyterian is not as visible from the road as Providence United Methodist, which could mean less walk-in traffic. Serving food before the bluegrass concert also requires food trucks to take a chance on the church event, as SMPC doesn’t know how many people will come. “It’s a little bit of a risk the first time you have something like this,” said Nancy Metzler, SMPC director of hospitality and connection. “We’re hoping this will be a big success, and we would love to do more.”
Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014
Charlotte church events embrace food trucks
For more information about South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church and Food Trucks & Bluegrass on Aug. 2, visit www.smpchome.org.
The church is located at 8601 Bryant Farms Road in Ballantyne.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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