The First Presbyterian Church and Iowa WINS will be rolling out a food truck this summer to help support immigrant families in the community.
The Rev. Trey Hagar, pastor at the First Presbyterian Church, said the organization has rented a taco truck that will serve high-end tacos and other items in the community and at events throughout the state.
The official kickoff of the truck will coincide with RAGBRAI riders traveling through Salem, which is scheduled for July 26.
While people can come get a taco even if they don’t have any money on them, he said donations for Iowa WINS will be accepted at the truck.
“(The donations) will be used to help families caught up in the immigration system,” Hagar said.
Along with other costs, Hagar said the bulk of donations will focus on legal fees. He said some people wait a decade for their immigration hearings and spend over $100,000 in legal fees, and these people can’t work until they get immigration papers.
Iowa WINS, which stands for Iowa Welcomes its Immigrant Neighbors, began in 2015 during the Syrian refugee crisis. Since then, the church commission has been striving to serve the larger Mt. Pleasant community by working with immigrant families and focusing on relationship building and education for the entire community. Hagar said the church recently started working on a partnership with Community First Credit Union to provide financial management classes to immigrant families in the area.
When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) came to Mt. Pleasant in 2018 and arrested 32 men, Hagar said the church became a safe meeting place for families affected by the raid. A food pantry was later started to help feed affected families, and the church also began to help pay for rent and utilities for families struggling after a source of income was taken away during the raid.
Hagar said recent conversations about the future of Iowa WINS involved trying to figure out a good way to continue to provide support. The idea of a sustainable ministry project, which would bring all proceeds directly back into the ministry, was brought up. After going through some examples of these types of projects in other places — including a farm, a convention center and a Subway shop — a family renting out their taco truck came onto their radar, Hagar said.
The truck also will create a “micro-economy” for the community, Hagar said. The church has been reaching out to businesses about having the truck around for employees to get food from, especially in areas where there aren’t many places to eat.
There’s also a list of events the group wants and plans to take the truck to in the next year, Hagar said, but the only official stop so far is at RAGBRAI.
Some families are also partaking in a community garden space that will grow food for the food truck.
After hiring a manager/chef position for the truck, Hagar said, the truck is ready to start serving.
“It should be a win-win-win for the whole community,” he said.