Boyle Street Eats: A food truck staffed by people who have experienced homelessness

There’s a new food truck on the block — and it’s run by people who have experienced homelessness.

Staff serves Indigenous-inspired food while earning work experience and money

Boyle Street Eats, a new food truck in Edmonton, employs people who have been touched by homelessness. (Rod Kurtz/CBC)

One of the newest vendors on Edmonton's food truck scene is staffed by people who have experienced homelessness.

Boyle Street Eats is run by people who use Boyle Street Community Services for mental health, housing and employment services.

The truck, launched earlier this month, was converted from an old milk truck.

"It's got lots of character, just like all of us at Boyle Street," Jordan Reiniger, director of development for Boyle Street Community Services, told CBC's Radio Active.

The CBC's Rod Kurtz visits the Boyle Street Community Services food truck to talk to them about how they're providing employment opportunities for the people they serve. 7:43

The truck has been met with great response, selling out of food the first day it launched, Reiniger said.

"All around, it's been a huge success," he said.

The food truck serves bannock and bison burgers as a nod to the clientele that use Boyle Street services, which is 80 per cent Indigenous.

They also serve poutine, Reiniger said, because "we can't have a food truck without poutine."

The truck serves the community while also helping staff gain work experience.

"The common myth out there is that if you're homeless or experiencing homelessness that you're lazy and you don't want to work — that couldn't be further from the truth," Reiniger said.

Riley Shannon Land, on the right, and Jordan Reiniger work in the kitchen of Boyle Street Eats. (Rod Kurtz/CBC)

"Pretty much everybody that we speak with, that we serve, wants to work, there's just barriers to those employment opportunities."

It also builds their resume, Reiniger said. "It creates a sense of confidence so they can go out and try some other things and [have] some money in their jeans so they can have a little extra cash to work with."

Riley Shannon Land works in an oilfield camp as a caterer in the winter. When Boyle Street opened up a food truck, he was happy to get back to working with food in the summer months.

He said he started working with the inner-city agency as a tribute to his mother, who uses its services. "My mother was awesome, and then she fell off, became homeless," Land said.

"Boyle Street helped her out."

When no one else was there for his mother, agencies like Boyle Street and Hope Mission were, he said.

"If they helped my family, I may as well help them," he said.

With files from Rod Kurtz