April 23, 2012
The economic crisis that erupted in 2008 caused a dramatic increase in hunger in the United States that continues to rise each year. According to worldhunger.org, in 2010, 17.2 million U.S. households, nearly one in seven, were food insecure. This is the highest number ever recorded in the United States. The increase in campus food banks, rise in tuition, and inadequacy of student loans suggest that post-secondary students also experience food insecurity.
One business making an effort to help is SouperVan. Founded by Rutgers University graduate Nicholas Kubian, along with his partners Dominick Rodriguez and Paul Deraval, the SouperVan was introduced at Rutgers University in 2011. Known as "the small van with the big mission," the SouperVan is a gourmet food truck that offers healthy and affordable meals. Every meal purchased helps to provide a meal to someone in the local community in need. The food served has a five-star rating on Yelp and is quick, inexpensive, and made from locally grown ingredients.
SouperVan is also working to alleviate the cause of hunger by creating employment opportunities that provide a livable wage and a higher purpose. SouperVan partners with Elijah’s Promise, which operates a soup kitchen, catering business, and culinary arts school. SouperVan hires graduates from the culinary arts program, creating employment opportunities.
From the diagram, you can see the concept of the SouperVan.
SouperVan’s mission is to:
- Provide the public with healthy and affordable food.
- Create a sustainable system to feed those in need. Every meal purchased at the SouperVan literally buys a meal for someone else at the local soup kitchen.
- Break the cycle of poverty by providing those in need with livable wage jobs.
- Inspire others to view business in a more holistic sense beyond purely bottom line profit.
- Provide a successful model/case study of alleviating universal issues through social enterprise.
In 2007, under the direction of President Dick McCormick of Rutgers University, I was part of the creation of a program called Rutgers Against Hunger. As manager of the project, I got to know Nick and Dom and learn of their SouperVan concept. No longer an idea, SouperVan is a reality. Rutgers University has been known for its “grease trucks” on campus. The SouperVan is a tasty and healthy alternative.
What does your campus do to address food insecurity in your community?
Photos provided by SouperVan.
is the Office Administrator at ACUI.
Supports members and membership initiatives, coordinates office operations, and is the primary customer service representative for ACUI and CSHEMA. Provides A/R responsibilities.