ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- As we head into hurricane season June 1, many people are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Matthew. First Coast News is happy to bring you the story of something good that came out of Hurricane Matthew.
It’s a business that serves food and hope.
Trust the Bus Food Truck is new in St. Augustine. It’s a colorful truck on San Marco Avenue and it's creation was a direct result of Hurricane Matthew.
Bradley Banion cooks. He simply explained, “It’s what I like to do.”
He has the Trust the Bus food truck in St. Augustine. The business is only 6 weeks old. The truck is inspired by his vintage Volkswagen bus which is painted with peace signs and bright colors.
“I just love VW’s,” he said and smiled.
His story about how he became a food truck chef is a drive through the disaster. It started with Hurricane Matthew in October. After the storm, he went to his mother in law’s house near St. Augustine Beach.
“Her house was destroyed," Banion remembered. "All the houses back there were flooded.”
He wanted to help storm victims somehow. At the time, he didn’t have a food truck, so he started cooking hot meals for storm victims in his own kitchen.
“It’s a skill set I have, I can help, so why not?” he said.
So he and his wife loaded up his VW bus with hot food and delivered the meals to hard-hit neighborhoods for weeks after the storm.
Banion recalled, “We were running around, house to house, saying, ‘Hey, you want a free meal?’”
People were turned-on by his good food and by his caring attitude, so much so, that investors offered to turn his love of cooking into a food truck business.
“I said, ‘no.’ They asked me again. I said, ‘no, really.’ They asked me a third time, and I said, ‘yes.’”
So Banion left his full-time job as a surgery tech at Flagler Hospital. Now his operating room is this souped-up food truck. And his good works continue. He’s hired a deaf, homeless woman to help in the kitchen.
“Everybody needs a second or third chance," Banion said. "She’s shown a lot of interest and does a fantastic job.”
He reminds folks that the storm recovery isn’t over for many, and he knows another disaster could hit.
“If there’s a hurricane, I’ll be more than happy to cook out of my truck. It’s a lot better than my kitchen,” he smiled.
So Banion’s dream has come true. Sure, it was tested and pressed by a disaster, but it’s alive because of good food and a caring heart that others recognized.