KAMLOOPS, B.C. – A group of concerned Kamloops, B.C., residents are looking for ways to get food into the bellies of truck drivers in the midst of Covid-19 restaurant closures in the area.
Just now in the process of forming and gauging the level of need, the group was first driven by local businessman Brad Wood, who quickly recruited the help of Greg Munden, who owns trucking, forestry, and maintenance company Munden Ventures.
“The thought, currently, is to engage the food truck industry in the community, as well as local restauranteurs to assist in providing meals at key locations and in safe, social-distancing ways to truck drivers in need,” said Munden, who has seen through his work on the executive committee of the Canadian Trucking Alliance the growing need to provide drivers with food and safe restroom facilities across several provinces and in the U.S.
“Anecdotal reports have come in from the B.C. Interior indicating that we may be heading down the same path with restaurants now closing and many franchise policies not allowing service to walk-up traffic,” Munden said, “which is the only option for professional truck drivers who, for obvious reasons, can’t simply pull their unit through the drive-thru.”
Munden said in light of all the industry has been doing to keep essential items available to consumers during the Covid-19 crisis, the general public and governments have become increasingly concerned for drivers who are out on the front lines.
“There seems to be a widespread understanding that if trucking stops, store shelves, which are already getting sparse for some products, will not be restocked with the necessities of life, and the economy grinds to a halt,” said Munden.
For several years, the industry has searched for ways to improve its image, particularly how the public perceives drivers, trucking, and its importance to the economy. Munden believes this current crisis has done just that.
“It is unfortunate to have taken Covid-19 to raise the importance of our sector, but it is wonderful to see people recognizing these drivers who are putting their own health concerns aside to deliver,” he said. “People know that we need to find a way to take care of our drivers.”
Feedback is starting to come in about access drivers have to food. Munden said the group received a video of a driver being refused service at a franchise location’s service window, and he has heard several similar stories.
The group is hoping it can recruit food trucks to stage at key locations, such as truck stops and cardlocks.
They also hope restaurants will offer take-out services to truck drivers.
“We believe there would be a big desire for those businesses, even if in a location not accessible by trucks, to provide and deliver meals where drivers need them,” said Munden, adding that all ideas are a work in progress at the moment.
In addition to the group’s ongoing efforts to find safe food options for drivers, Munden said he hopes the public understands the tremendous amount of pressure drivers and the industry is currently under.
Drivers are being asked to continue their normal driving schedules, and in some cases drive more – such as in the U.S. where hours-of-service rules have been relaxed for those hauling Covid-19 essential items – all while being away from their families, that must remain isolated at home.
Along with food, drivers must continue to have access to restrooms, showers, and rest areas to safely pull over.
“If the general public finds themselves in a situation where they see a driver unable to purchase a meal at a drive-thru because of no in-store service and restrictions to walk-up drive-thru service, I know it would mean the world to them if people could assist them in getting a meal,” said Munden. “Of course, all of this needs to happen with social-distancing in mind.”
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