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Monday, March 04, 2024

Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally makes charity taste delicious

Event celebrated its 10th anniversary Saturday

<p>Habitat for Humanity sits outside the High Dive during the Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally Saturday, Feb. 3, 2023. </p>

Habitat for Humanity sits outside the High Dive during the Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally Saturday, Feb. 3, 2023.

For one loyal food truck’s menu selection, its advice is straightforward: “Keep it simple, stupid.”

Monsta Lobsta has been participating in the Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally since the event’s inception in 2013. Lobster lovers and co-owners Kurt and Amnita Andreaus have continued to return to Gainesville for a decade to show their support of the High Dive’s food, festival and philanthropy. 

“The nice thing about this is that it does benefit a different charity every month,” Kurt said, citing his decade-long support of the rally. “We like to be a part of raising money for charity.”

Presented by Glory Days and the High Dive, the Original Gainesville Food Truck Rally celebrated its 10th anniversary Saturday. The completely free event at 210 SW 2nd Ave. gathers various savory local food trucks in one place. 

Originally from Orlando, the Monsta Lobsta couple has been operating the bisque-based business for over 20 years since transitioning out of the corporate world. The pair doesn’t mind the long drives multiple times a month, Kurt said, because the connections they’ve made with Gainesville clients make it all worth it.

“The key is, we've built a strong following,” said Kurt, 55. “We've developed such a strong following in the Gainesville market. We enjoy it. We put out a quality product with fair prices, the people will come back to support.”

In the Food Truck Rally’s case, the more options, the better, Kurt said. With over 10 vendors, attendees got their pick among wings, desserts, sandwiches, quesadillas, arepa burgers or lobster bisque.

One change Kurt has noted from participating in the event for a decade is how high-tech the event has evolved to become over the years. 

Customers had the opportunity to scan QR barcodes to donate to UF Habitat for Humanity — the campus chapter of a non-profit home-building organization — while waiting from the comfort of their own place in line.

Enticed with live music and good eats for a good cause, the High Dive raised over $450 in support of UF Habitat for Humanity, this month’s local charity of choice.

The rally takes place roughly six times a year, High Dive facility and events manager Patrick Lavery said, and the venue works with local charities year-round who can assist with event promotion and audience-gathering. 

Attendees crowded the cleared parking lot, fried food in hand, appreciating the handheld and portable qualities of their meal without a table to sit at. For those over the legal drinking age, the bar at High Dive was open with drink specials and live entertainment from a local lineup including HAUNCHES, Jay Rogue and the Stoges, and Breakfast for Dinner.

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Nolia Joy, 18-year-old lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for Breakfast for Dinner was invited to perform at the Food Truck Rally for the first time this year. As the self-appointed band manager, Joy said, she typically reaches out to Gainesville venues to find gigs. This time, however, it was the other way around.

Breakfast for Dinner was asked by High Dive to open for HAUNCHES, another band the group met in a Battle of the Bands competition. Despite the initial rivalry, the two bands played jointly in support of Saturday’s mission. 

“We decided to support that cause,” Joy said. “Some of us from personal experience know that affordable housing is important and we just thought it was for a good cause.”

Breakfast for Dinner volunteered its time to play in support of the charity of honor, urging the audience to get out there, have some fun and eat good food.

UF Habitat for Humanity’s mission is to build strength and self-reliance among Alachua County’s families in need of affordable housing. A stable home is a very rudimentary step, but it can be the first chance to turn someone’s life around, UF Habitat for Humanity events coordinator Jordyn Chiodo said.

“We strive to provide homes for families in Alachua county,” she said. “We build those houses ourselves. We're just trying to make a difference in people's lives.”

The first step of creating a home for the unhoused can be the launching point in starting an education, creating a better life for their children and overall improving their quality of life, Chiodo said. 

Most of UF Habitat for Humanity’s volunteers come from the student population, she said, but community members and residents are welcome to join as well. Hanging posters around campus and tabling at Turlington are some of the ways the organization advertised Saturday’s event.

For someone who didn’t get the chance to attend Saturday’s rally, future donors can visit UF Habitat for Humanity’s website for more information about the organization’s mission, Chiodo said.

In addition to supporting a great local cause, attendees left the High Dive Saturday with stuffed bellies, filled with fried delicacies and sugary desserts — and even fuller hearts.

Contact Loren Miranda at Follow her on Twitter @LorenMiranda13.

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Loren Miranda

Loren Miranda is a second-year journalism major and a staff writer for the Avenue. She is also a copy editor for Rowdy Magazine. When she's not writing, she enjoys watching either critically acclaimed films or cheesy reality TV, no in-betweens.

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