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Pueblo, Colorado, has a long and fascinating cultural, agricultural, and culinary history.
Whether it was the melting pot of steelworkers intentionally arranging to get their kids cross-culturally married so that families could learn each other’s languages and organize in the late 1880s or the teacher’s union strike of 2018, Pueblo is a true Union Town!
Until 2017, in a town known for its green chilé and dedicated food culture, “mobile food units” or Food Trucks were not permitted to do business. Even after they were legalized, it was incredibly difficult for the trucks to operate within city limits due to hurdles of compliance and stiff resistance from long-established restaurant competitors. Fast forward to the pandemic of 2020, and suddenly, Food Trucks became centrally important for feeding hungry doctors, nurses, and other essential workers.
Yet many areas of the city, like parks and parking lots, were still off-limits to trucks without applying for complex permits and providing fundamental services (like toilets, hand washing stations, dumpsters, and complex road closures.) Forged out of a desire to bring together a consistent, safe gathering place and a “Foodie Friday” with all the local trucks, the Food Truck Union was formed by Cooper Watts (owner of Puff Puffette Pass Ice Cream). Watts assembled 11 trucks he had met at private catering events along the way since April of 2022.
The event became a hit overnight, and the founders reached out, asking for volunteers to partner with them in the work of event coordination so the chefs could focus on the food. The talented couple of Andee Ames and Nick Naglich—aka the Collaborative Curators—stepped up to help organize and recently connected with RMFU Cooperative Specialist Dan Hobbs, who had been independently promoting ideas of farmers-chef cooperatively owned food Trucks. Hobbs invited Union Co-op organizer Matt Noyes of Colorado Springs, and the four recently met to map out a path to develop a Food truck union cooperative (see photo taken at Excelsior Farmers Exchange 10/22)
By the end of October (Co-op month!), the Food Truck Union has grown to over 55 compliant trucks, shelf-stable food vendors, and artists and boasts well over 10,000 meals served at Food Truck Union Fridays at Pueblo’s Mineral Palace Park in 2022.
The group plans to celebrate its accomplishments this fall with a food truck potluck and subsequent exploration of forming a cooperative in 2023.
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a member of the Food Truck Co-op, please email Dan.Hobbs@rmfu.org.
Andee Ames and Dan Hobbs