Main Street Truck Park cooking meals for Hurricane Ida evacuee bus drivers

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 3:50 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2021 at 6:19 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - It’s been less than two weeks since Hurricane Ida made its mark on Louisiana. But even so, Cenla businesses are coming together to help the 800 evacuees at the mega-shelter just south of Alexandria, including the Main Street Truck Park in Pineville.

A small team of three spent all day at the Main Street Truck Park cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner on Wednesday, September 8. For lunch, KALB stopped by to watch Tyler Crochet and his team make 46 grilled shrimp salads, with a chicken option for people who don’t eat seafood.

“We grill chicken and shrimp in a 60-year-old Cajun crackling pot with some of our own seasonings,” said Crochet, who runs the Pineville Farm Stand and “Truly Cajun Market Food Truck.”

For almost two weeks, volunteers and staff from the food truck park have been cooking up breakfast, lunch and dinner at their spot on Main Street in Pineville. They plate everything up and hand-deliver it to the mega-shelter just south of Alexandria to feed all of the bus drivers who have been transporting Hurricane Ida evacuees.

“They came here on a bus so they can’t drive and go eat, they just can only transport their bus all day. So we make sure when they get breakfast, lunch and dinner that they can get the best of the best that we can possibly do under the circumstances that we have,” said Crochet.

Crochet and his team have spent the last almost two weeks cooking upwards of 350 meals per day.

“We’re trying to bring them good, solid Cajun food, home-cooked with love right here at the Main Street Food Truck Park in Pineville, and we’re delivering that three times a day to try to build morale, build community, help these guys increase their mood and give them some really good home-cooked food,” Crochet said.

Transportation Management Services out of Maryland initially contacted the food truck park about catering breakfast, lunch and dinner to all 80 of their bus drivers who have no other way to eat.

“A lot of these guys, some of them are sleeping in buses, some of them are sleeping under their buses, some of them have hotels, some of them don’t because hotels are full in Louisiana, so at least three times a day when we’re bringing them breakfast, lunch and dinner, we know for sure they’re going to have a home-cooked meal,” said Crochet.

KALB caught up with some of the bus drivers at the mega-shelter. Will Garrett, who is the Special Projects Law Enforcement Liaison Manager for Transportation Management Services, said Crochet and his team delivered.

“Personally, I like the shrimp etouffee the best, but I have not come across a Louisiana meal that I haven’t liked,” Garrett said.

Crochet and his team have been feeding drivers for a little over 10 days now and will continue to do so for as long as the bus drivers are here.

“We have no idea how much longer they’re going to be here but we’re going to be here, we’ll be here serving them,” said Crochet.

All of the meals have Cajun spices you can’t get anywhere but here in Louisiana.

“We’ve had to knock down on the spice to make it more palatable for the people up north. They still enjoy it but they’re like, I kind of want to bring a thing of Tums out there for them. If we can’t do anything in Louisiana, we’re going to feed you, and we’re going to make you feel good, you know,” said Amanda Kowatz, Manager of the Pineville Food Truck.

The team says they’re happy to help the bus drivers who are helping Ida evacuees get to safety.

“You’re going to leave feeling like family and enjoy some really good meals here,” said Kowatz.

In total, the food truck park has about 10 employees and five volunteers that help cook the meals.

Once they no longer have to feed the drivers, the truck park will reopen and go back to normal operations.

Transportation Management Services is paying for the ingredients to make sure all drivers are able to eat. Food donations and volunteers are accepted at the food truck park.

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