Food truck for charity: BC doctor launches non-profit

A Vancouver-area surgeon, inspired to try to give back to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, has launched a food truck that will fundraise for charities and employ people struggling to make ends meet.

Dr. Sharadh Sampath says the Cultivate food truck will start by parking outside of Metro Vancouver hospitals, giving health-care workers a chance to pick up a healthy meal on their breaks while contributing to a good cause.

“It kind of built up momentum during COVID because, obviously, folks that were having a rough go before COVID were having a substantially worse time during COVID,” he tells CTV News.

He says while he’s worked hard to achieve the success that he has in his life, he recognizes that his relatively privileged circumstances played a role as well.

“If I didn’t have all this, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. And so I’m all about evening that playing field the best we can,” he explains.

“This is the first foray into trying to help make that happen for some folks who may not otherwise have had that chance.”

The truck is getting back up and running after a hiatus brought about by rising gas and food costs and Sampath says he hopes raising some awareness about what he’s trying to do will help the endeavor succeed, and hopefully give other people considering trying to make a difference some motivation.

“That’s one of the metrics of success. If somebody kind of hears about the truck and thinks, ‘Well, if this guy can do it, I can do something similar in my community and help where I live.’ That would be great, “he says.

His colleague Dr. Ekua Yorke says she is doing everything she can to help spread the word and make the project a success.

“I think we all often have big ideas, we envision ourselves helping society in some way. But when it comes down to it, life is often busy or we actually don’t know how to galvanize people to come together,” she says.

“When I saw that he took the time during COVID, when most of us were struggling to keep our head above water, to make this project come to fruition – I was inspired.”

While the non-profit is still getting up and running, Sampath has a vision for what it will become. He hopes to expand the truck’s clientele by catering events. More workers will be hired, trained and paid a living wage. The plan is to expand beyond donating to the hospitals they park in front of to supporting shelters, cancer research and Indigenous health initiatives.

But beyond that, he wants people to know the food is not only healthy but really, really good.

“We have two chefs that are just rock stars. The food is legit, and they put a lot of love into it,” he says.

“You’ll leave of with a full stomach and a bit of inspiration.”

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