Clockwise from top left: A burger from ReidsFreshExpress; loaded "torts" from Burgh Bites; and a brat from Berlin Street Food cart.
The chance to sample a variety of street foods all in one place is reason in itself to seek out a food-truck roundup.
But what if you also could help raise money for a good cause by buying a taco, burger or currywurst with fries slathered in curry ketchup?
This Sunday, June 14, eight Pittsburgh food trucks will gather from 10 a.m. to at least 2 p.m. at the Sam's Club at Mt. Nebo Pointe in Ohio Township for just that purpose. A portion of the day's sales will be donated to Children's Miracle Network hospitals, an international non-profit organization that raises funds for children's hospitals, medical research and community awareness of children's health issues.
The event is part of an annual initiative by Sam's and parent company Walmart, whose associates each year hold a six-week fundraising drive to raise money for CMN hospitals. Since 1987, the nationwide campaigns have raised more than $750 million through the generosity of customers.
Sunday's roundup has special meaning for truck operators in that the proceeds will help support one of their own: Walter Aguirre of Kittaning-based L.A. Taco Truck, whose 5-year-old son, Gabriel, recently was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia, or ALL, a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lympocytes (a type of white blood cell).
Currently undergoing treatment at Children's Hosptial of Pittsburgh of UPMC, Gabriel on June 6 served as Grand Marshall for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life event in Ford City, Armstrong County.
CMN is close to Mr. Aguirre's heart, he said, "because we've seen first-hand how much of an impact these organizations have on families fighting childhood illness."
The same could be said of workers at Sam's, noted Mt. Nebo club manager Shane Haynie, who urge customers to donate at the register or buy balloons or tickets for gift baskets for the cause.
"It's something that founder Sam Walton [committed the company] to years ago, and it's become part of our culture," said Mr. Haynie, with friendly competitions between stores to see which can raise the most dollars. Last year the Mt. Nebo store collected $30,000 between the beginning of May and mid-June; it hopes to take it up a notch this year with at least $10,000 more -- a goal that required "something special."
The associate who came up with the idea for the food-truck roundup just happened to know Stephanie Morales, co-owner of Las Chicas, a North Hills food truck serving Mexican cuisine. She was only too happy to take the reins.
"We want to raise money for these young fighters of ours and show that our community really does care -- all of us," she said.
The roundup will be staged in a roped-off section of Sam's parking lot at 289 Mount Nebo Pointe Road, adjacent to the fuel station. Participating food trucks/vendors include Las Chicas, Berlin Street Food, Burgh Bites, ReidsFreshExpress, Rolling Cones, Mission Mahi, Oak Hill Kettle Corn and Rolling Kitchen.
Reid's Fresh Express (top left), Burgh Bites (top right) and Post-Gazette (bottom) photos.