A new non-profit called Let’s Eat Out! is aiming to support food carts and bring dinners and food access to neighborhoods across the city.
The concept began in 2012 as Let’s Eat Out, Atwood!, bringing five carts for one night per week to the Atwood area. Slide Food Cart and Catering owner Christine Ameigh worked to expand the food cart base to include new carts and locations, now reaching 15 weekly dinners with 25 member food carts for 2015.
As it has evolved, the group has honed in on supporting communities with limited food access, providing subsidized meals from food carts and distributing free produce to community members. They are specifically targeting Meadowood, Allied Drive, Park Street and Rimrock Road this summer, planning on holding 64 neighborhood dinners.
Let's Eat Out! will replace the city’s Meet & Eat program that brought food carts and vendors to neighborhoods to encourage the community to connect and enjoy a night out.
“We’ve kind of just let them take over,” said Madison Parks spokesperson Ann Shea.
On top of food access, the organization is also developing a partnership with Briarpatch Youth Services to offer paid internships for at-risk youth ages 16-18 and is aiming to have graduates of that program start and manage Madison’s first community-owned food cart by 2020.
“It is our goal to set the foundation for labor-market involvement and engagement for these youth and to smooth the transition through the educational system into the labor market or further education,” the website states.
The Monday to Thursday dinners will start May 4 and run through Aug. 27. The group is also partnering with Project Kinect to run a four-part summer concert series at Burr Jones Field.
They are working with partners across the city and are working to raise funding through various methods, including crowd funding on the website.
“These events will foster an environment where community engagement is organic and place-making is a byproduct,” the website reads.