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article imageAustin’s Capital Area Food Bank unveils new mobile food pantry Special

By Lynn Herrmann     Aug 30, 2010 in Food
Austin - The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas, headquartered in Austin, Texas, announced on Monday the newest addition to its efforts at helping those in need, a new tractor-trailer rig with a 40,000 pound food transport capacity.
Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) unveiled its newest mobile food pantry Monday morning, a 48-foot trailer rig with a flexible refrigeration system. It is a vital addition to helping CAFB service its central Texas region, a 21-county area encompassing 20,000 square miles.
At a news conference prior to the truck’s unveiling, David Davenport, President & CEO of CAFB, said: “The new truck allows us to feed four times the number of people as previously; and to do the job effectively and efficiently.”
The central Texas region continues to show an increased need for CAFB’s services. More than 40 percent of CAFB’s client base is children. Davenport then hit a crucial note regarding CAFB’s role. “Hunger, especially in the life of a child, is ethically and morally unacceptable,” he said.
David Davenport  President & CEO of CAFB  describes some of the features to a group at CAFB s south ...
David Davenport, President & CEO of CAFB, describes some of the features to a group at CAFB's south Austin distribution site.
The new tractor-trailer rig's design was the concept of CAFB’s Charlie Ward, Chief Operating Officer, which originated from a sketch drawn out on a napkin.
“Every site we went to was under-served, we had to go larger. We spent a lot of time loading and unloading the truck. For labor reasons, I knew we needed a truck that could be backed up to a dock and loaded more quickly,” Ward told a group of reporters.
Refreshingly, Ward spoke of the importance of staff input. “The truck was designed after listening to our staff, which are our drivers and our mobile pantry coordinators, and our clients. We figured out real quickly that we needed a larger vehicle. Because of the clients we were serving, we could not bring enough food out to the sites. I spent a week-end designing it, and basically we just went to a larger truck.”
Charlie Ward  Chief Operating Officer at CAFB  came up with the mobile food pantry s concept after l...
Charlie Ward, Chief Operating Officer at CAFB, came up with the mobile food pantry's concept after listening to the needs of staff members and clients alike.
The trailer has a special storage unit underneath for chairs and tables so applicants can complete necessary paperwork on-site, under the protection of retractable awnings.
“We also put a generator on here and can have full-time electricity for fans and misters. The awnings help under certain weather conditions. The manufacturer had the capability to add them, so we did,” Ward told the group.
John Turner, Senior Director of Marketing and Branding, pointed out some of the trailer’s multiple-use features to Digital Journal. “In addition to transporting up to 40,000 pounds of food products, the trailer’s electrical outlets can be used for staff’s laptop computers when assisting on-site clients with their paperwork.” he said.
The tractor-trailer rig is a welcome addition to the Food Bank staff’s ability to efficiently handle the growing work load created by a bogged-down economy and seemingly deepening recession.
“The tractor can handle five people, as well. This allows five staff members who can work with local volunteers at the site,” Ward added.
Among the many custom features on the trailer, including a visually appealing 3-D exterior wrap, the trailer’s refrigeration system is tailored to customer needs. Ward said: “The trailer was designed for multi-temp refrigeration: frozen, refrigerated, and dried products going out to the customer.
“The trailer’s bulkhead allows us to move the refrigeration system in the trailer, depending on how many frozen pallets and refrigerated pallets we have. The trailer has a lot of flexibility, depending on what we want to do with it, and most of that is determined by the client.”
The trailer s exterior features a colorful 3-D wrap that sends a strong message about CAFB s role in...
The trailer's exterior features a colorful 3-D wrap that sends a strong message about CAFB's role in central Texas.
By most standards, the trailer is huge, yet a growing need, nationwide, dictates more of these sleek units may soon be seen across America. “This is the first large mobile pantry out on the road in the United States. Most of them are smaller. However, if you listen to the client, and you listen to the staff, you’ll do the right thing,” Ward noted.
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