Food trucks have now become synonymous with Philadelphia food culture — you can find pretty much any food you want at one in Philly, from bagels, tacos, mac and cheese, waffles, cupcakes and more.
Schmear It, which sells a variety of bagels with custom spreads, is a food truck with a cause. Dave Fine founded the truck in August 2013, not only to provide breakfast to hungry customers, but to make a difference in the community.
Fine said he always admired companies like TOMS and the one-for-one model, which ultimately led him to model Schmear It with the idea of purchasing something and giving back to the community in return.
“Looking at their model, it was very refreshing and [I thought] it would be really cool to do something like that from a food platform,”he said. “What if you could donate something for every meal that was purchased? It empowers your customers to be philanthropists.”
Fine previously had worked at a community health-based organization in Maryland and has a background in the nonprofit sector.
“I enjoyed helping people and doing good in the community,” he said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have a great experience in my organization and that led me to look around and think about how I could have a better impact.”
Helping Nonprofits With Funds and Marketing
Schmear It selects a new nonprofit every two weeks and donates a portion of sales, between 3 and 5 percent, during that time period.
Fine said he chose to donate 3-5 percent because it is a sustainable rate for a start-up business.
“Ten percent sounds nice and one day might be a goal, but it would not be practical right now,” Fine said. “Any range/adjustment is based on any special circumstances i.e. mechanical problems cutting down on scheduled vending time.”
Typically, according to Fine, Schmear It raises about $125-200 for the nonprofit.
“I know a $150 check for a nonprofit means something different depending on their size. We aren’t raising big money here,” Fine added. “If $150 isn’t what you are looking for, we are happy to make it into a food contribution.”
Fine has donated food in lieu of financial contributions to several organizations, including Mighty Writers for its annual celebration, a Habitat Philly build as a jumpstart to their week-long project, and a networking breakfast for Women’s Way Young Women’s Initiative in October 2014.
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Fine also added that he uses social media to help out with marketing and said he founded Schmear It with the intention of influencing social impact through social media.
“Food trucks have a significant social media following because people love to tweet about their food and customers need to know where you are going to be the next day,” he said. “I leverage that and spread awareness of local causes and that is where I have the greatest impact.”
The Young Women’s Initiative (YWI), which benefitted both from a food donation and social media promotion from Schmear It, is a volunteer led young friends group that works to develop its members as leaders and philanthropists, increase public understanding of issues impacting women and girls, and raise critical funds for WOMEN’S WAY.
“[Schmear It’s] support was incredibly helpful to us. Promotion on the truck and Schmear It’s social media pages got our name and event out to a different crowd,” said Kim Arena, events and program manager at WOMEN’s WAY. “Then the donation of bagels and schmear for our event covered our food needs for breakfast and they delivered it fresh first thing in the morning.”
Fine said that it’s companies like his own that are spearheading the movement for businesses to have more social impact.
“This is the trend right now. People are making purchases with a level of consciousness,” Fine said. “More and more restaurants are doing sustainable local sourcing, more clothing companies that are putting their missions and values up front. People are sort of moving in that direction.”
Image via Schmear It-30-
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