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Houston Church Steps Up to Help Black-Owned Food Truck Vendors Stay Afloat During COVID: ‘If We Can Get Together and Come As One, We Can Do Anything’

Windsor Village United Methodist Church is helping African-American entrepreneurs get back on their feet amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Power Center Food Truck Park, open Thursday through Sunday, allows Black-owned food trucks to sign up for a slot on the 35,000-square-foot lot. The food truck park initially had just three trucks, and now 18 to 25 trucks fill the spaces every weekend, making it the largest food truck park venue in Houston, Texas.

The food truck industry offers customers a flexible, adaptable and downright delicious dining experience. Many of the Power Center trucks had no place to go due to event and festival cancellations.

According to the U.S Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns program, the food truck industry generates more than $1 billion in sales yearly. Many entrepreneurs are hoping to get a piece of that pie.

Entrepreneur Angela Blackshire said that she was a successful personal chef and caterer before she found the Power Center. She was serving up her signature Cajun and Caribbean cuisine to crowds at weddings and galas all over Houston. Then the pandemic struck.

Blackshire said several major clients canceled due to restrictions brought on by COVID-19. She reached a fork in the road and decided to dust off an idea she’d been sitting on for years — starting a food truck. “You gotta always keep a backup plan,” she said. “Even your backup plan needs a backup plan!”

A new route was also in the works for Malcome Wilson, owner of Daranne’s Soul Rolls N’ Eats, who used his life savings to start his dream truck three months ago. “Prior to this, I was working two full-time jobs,” Wilson said. “When coronavirus and COVID kicked in in March, I got furloughed from both jobs.”

Blackshire and Wilson are not alone in their struggles. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, nearly 41 percent of Black-owned businesses have seen the side effects of COVID-19, and over 400,000 have shut down since March.

At Windsor Village UMC, Kirbyjon Caldwell said the Power Center will continue to host the food truck park as long as there is a need. “We’re very happy and honored to be of service,” Caldwell said, “and we’re glad that our entrepreneurs are adding value to the community and receiving the benefits.”

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