Sarah Manuel is no ordinary person–this food truck owner donates meals to people in need.
Sarah Manuel, food truck owner of Streatery, has decided to make it her mission to give back to her community by donating meals to people in need due to the government response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Manuel is on her fourth season running Streatery, and one thing that has never sat right with her is the amount of food that gets wasted in the industry. On top of that waste, she saw people suffer and facing hunger due to the government’s response to the pandemic.
The Havre Daily News reports that Manuel made the decision to do something about both issues, beginning her frozen meals program immediately after government lockdowns began. “I started this a year ago, when Covid set in, that was when we launched our line of freezer meals which we now sell at Bear Paw Meats. Some of that [food waste] is through the distributors, some of it’s at grocery stores, a lot of restaurants, and in the home. So I was trying to find a solution.”
The idea to help those in need and preserve food that would have otherwise been wasted started off small. “The way that we distribute is pretty low-key at this point. People just reach out to me, whether it’s an organization that has families, especially around the holidays, that was something we were doing to provide free meals for those families. I’ve also reached out to churches in the area and things of that nature to try to spread the word.”
To Manuel, it was the next logical step to gather support for this idea to help it grow. “I did everything on the GoFundMe platform, individuals who had a little extra money could donate to the GoFundMe. Then those funds were used to provide frozen meals for families who were maybe going through a tougher time financially.”
The frozen meals program that Manuel started hasn’t just assisted struggling individuals and families but also food production businesses. Streatery is now helping support over 20 such businesses in Montana. She found herself with a lot of free time due to the pandemic and was able to use this to build the program up.
Catering is a large portion of her work and the lack of events due to government mandates left a hole in the usual business plan. She still had connections and the ability to acquire great local organic ingredients and used this to help others. While she was able to stay afloat during the peak of the lockdowns, she managed to support others as well through her ingenuity.
The process itself is rather simple while the results are profound. As explained by Manuel: “We have a food truck, but we also have a commercial prep kitchen separate from the food truck, and so we do all of our prep there. I have a lot of freezer space. So we make everything homemade and package it ourselves, freeze it, store it. Right now we’re just doing local delivery. So, we deliver to Bear Paw Meals in Havre and sell there. We also take orders on our website.”
Now with government restrictions on events decreasing, her food truck catering business has been able to build back up. Being able to cater weddings and major events again increases her ability to help others. Manuel is using her passion for food and her Streatery business to continue making her community a better place.
Manuel is running a fundraiser targeting food insecurity to continue addressing hunger and food waste. She is very excited about being able to expand her frozen meals program and enjoy events again.
Sarah Manuel has made a noticeable impact in her community by targeting a need she saw and could assist with. She voluntarily took the time and resources to find out how to best fix what she could for those around her. She and her business at Streatery have no plans to stop helping others anytime soon.