Trust Google to know what’s trending and how to use it to promote their business. Last August and up to this month, Google has been seen giving out free food. Well, it’s almost free with a tiny catch. The Google food truck traveled around selected areas promoting Google Photos, their new photo storage and sharing app. To get the free food, you have to pay by using the app and submitting a photo online. However, the photo had to be on a specific topic. Customers who wanted free food had to get a keyword from the food truck staff. Using that keyword, they had to search for photos on their mobile phone using the app and doing it all under 20 seconds. Those who didn’t make the 20 second time clock would still get free food – but only the snack version, not the full serving.
Technically though Google has not opened a new food truck business. It gave food made by lucky existing food trucks like Coolhaus which sells ice cream sandwiches. The Google free food promo started in New York and made its way to Los Angeles and has had thousands of participants. In New York, the food truck selected to partner with Google was Waffles and Dinges which sells savory, sweet, and ice cream waffles. There were also free cupcakes from the Google food truck in Austin, Texas and from the feedback posted online, the response from the winners was phenomenal in spite of the limited time that the food trucks were open. The schedules were usually limited to3 hours per stop or from 11 in the morning to 2pm and from 6 to 9 pm.
Google is not the only company to offer free food from food trucks. The nonprofit Food Bank of the Southern Tier has its Mobile Food Pantry which has a more impressive and noble goal. It uses 2 35 foot beverage trucks to distribute grocery and food products to people who need food. The truck is manned by local volunteers and customers are allowed to “shop” for what they need. The truck covers 6 counties and 4,000 square miles to reach those in the Southern Tier who don’t have any idea where their next meal will come from. Many of them do not even have cars to travel to find work or food and often live in places where there is no public transportation. The organization relies heavily on donations and Catholic Charities and Feeding America groups. They are also supported by the NYS Department of Health and Seneca Beverage Corporation.
Each truck can haul up to 15,000 lbs of food and is able to feed up to 250 families. Last year, the Mobile Food Pantry was able to distribute in 611 locations over 3.4 million pounds of food which included over 700,000 pounds of fresh produce.