K-pop-inspired food trucks help restaurants affected by COVID and children in need

K-pop-inspired food trucks help restaurants affected by COVID and children in need

A non-profit organization in Seoul sends food trucks to establishments in need.

SEOUL, South Korea — The delicious smell of shrimp patties and brioche buns baking on a sizzling skillet filled the air. Watermelon-shaped rice cake bars were stacked in one corner, iced tea and soda in the other.

Immediately after the lunch bell rang, elementary school children lined up in front of the red glass-encased food truck, peeking at the menu, enjoying the tantalizing buttery scent.

This is a food truck gift designed only for Global Sarang School, which is attended by children of migrant workers and underprivileged people in Seoul city.

Sending a fancy decorated food truck to a concert or film set for an idol and their staff is a long-standing fan culture in South Korea.

K-pop stars aren’t the only ones getting food truck surprises anymore. There is now a food truck driving around Seoul with popular mom and pop restaurant chefs on board to serve their specialty menu at the kid-friendly facilities.

“It’s cool that we have a food truck like Black Pink,” Hayoung Song, 9, from India, told ABC News. Black Pink is a four-member idol girl group from South Korea and the most subscribed artist on YouTube.

The T&C Foundation, a non-profit organization in Seoul, launched the food truck project for 16 underprivileged children’s institutions in February. The aim was to ensure that children received a balanced diet during the pandemic, as establishments that depended on donations and subsidies came under economic pressure. School closures and the transition to online classes have left many children skipping the meals provided at their schools.

The project went further than just giving children a good meal. It aimed to make recipients feel like they were being treated like “star kings and idols”, rather than receiving a welfare handout. To add even more kid-friendly functionality to the food truck, the organizers have come up with a dice game for kids to play while waiting in line. Children could roll the dice for bigger portions of snacks, or sometimes they had to stand at the back of the line and wait for another turn.

“I’m so happy to be part of a meaningful project, to see children smiling and eating well. I also hope they feel like K-pop idols receiving support from their fans,” Nick Jeong, a senior college volunteer with the food truck project, told ABC News.

The organization saw the project as an opportunity to benefit both small-scale food vendors and project beneficiaries. Restaurants suffering from excessive sales due to strict government restrictions related to COVID-19 have been granted a guarantee of stable income.

“I’m thrilled to see the children’s eyes light up when they eat our signature menu,” Myungja Lee, owner of a small seafood restaurant in Pildong’s food alley who cooked on ABC News, told ABC News. the food truck once a week for the past two months. . “In addition to the sense of accomplishment that we cooked good food for the children, it also contributes to the restaurant’s income.”