Food Trucks assist animal nonprofits

2014-04-17T00:00:00Z 2014-04-17T11:01:24Z Food Trucks assist animal nonprofitsBy Gerald M. Gay Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Every Wednesday night, Mukhi and Roop Singh pull their Twisted Tandoor food truck into the empty dirt lot on the northwest corner of East Fort Lowell Road and North Campbell Avenue.

Like most nights, the goal is simple: make good Indian cuisine for customers and get paid for doing so.

Wednesdays, however, are a little different.

The money the Singhs give to station their truck at the busy intersection goes toward a rotating list of animal rescue groups.

On a recent Wednesday night, the fee was donated to In the Arms of Angels, a nonprofit that saves dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters.

A collection jars was on-hand at the truck in case customers felt like giving a little more to the cause.

The Tandoor is one on a long list of trucks that make up the Wednesday night rallies. Other regular participants include BurgerRito, Cheesy Rider, Double D’s Gourmet Bourbon Kitchen, Kadooks, The Chill Shack, Zany Beaver, Dawg Daze and Jozarelli’s Italian Street Food.

“We do good business here,” Mukhi Singh said. “It goes to a good cause. It is good karma all around.”

The Wednesday events, which take place during lunch and dinner, were started by Donna DeConcini, a local animal-rights advocate and founder of her own animal rescue organization, Food for Horses.

For a year now, DeConcini has been recruiting food trucks to participate in gatherings around town where the rental fees would go to charitable animal organizations.

At first, it was primarily for Food for Horses, which helps horse owners who can’t afford feed. She has expanded to other organizations over time, such as In the Arms of Angels, Tucson Cold Wet Noses and Pima Paws for Life.

“We choose on the basis of who needs the help the most,” DeConcini said.

She found the spot at Fort Lowell and Campbell Avenue in December and hopes to develop other locations.

She’s already been testing a space at 7000 E. Speedway, just west of North Kolb Road, but “that hasn’t caught on yet,” she said.

Over the last year, the food truck rallies have helped raise more than $6,000 for animal-based nonprofits.

“Everybody loves to eat,” DeConcini said. “The way to get to people is through their stomachs, by feeding them a good meal.”

The situation is a win-win for food truck owners, many of whom have been working with DeConcini since the beginning.

Sean Scott, owner of the grilled cheese sandwich food truck Cheesy Rider, said the truck’s first gig ever was with DeConcini.

Scott said the Campbell Avenue location, which sees a regular flow of traffic, is a good spot for midweek.

“We get a good crowd,” Scott said. “Donna has never steered us wrong. We are happy to help out with whatever cause she brings to us.

Michael Matranga, owner of the Dawg Daze hot dog stand, is the only food cart operator who regularly attends the rallies. He does decent business, slinging Sabrett hot dogs, a popular staple from his native New York.

Matranga loves dogs — the food and the animal — so events like these were right up his alley.

“It is very cool to be able to contribute,” he said. “I am happy to be a part of it.”

Mukhi Singh, a rally regular, said the crowds have picked up over the past five months.

“It is getting to be a very impressive place,” Mukhi said. “We are always getting new people coming down. The word is spreading.”

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at ggay@azstarnet.com or 807-8430.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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