By Tony DeGol
Catholic education is a cherished part of Sherry Knopick’s life.
An alum of Catholic schools herself, she proudly sent her sons to Catholic school and currently has a granddaughter who attends Holy Trinity Catholic School in Altoona.
So she is pretty pumped about a delicious way HTCS is bringing people together and raising money at the same time.
Every Wednesday evening from 5:00-8:00 p.m., various food trucks fill the parking lot of Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Altoona, which houses the Holy Trinity middle school campus.
The vendors give HTCS a percentage of the sales, which the school splits with Saint Rose of Lima.
“We’ve been cooped up for so many months and a lot of fundraisers got pushed back, and I just think this was the perfect thing to do to make some money and come and see everybody again,” Knopick said. “It has just grown and grown and I think it’s wonderful, I think it’s awesome, and we just chat and go food truck to food truck and eat.”
Alicia Lombardo-Jordan is the president of the Holy Trinity PTO, and one of the people who makes it all possible every week.
“We came up with the event and tried to create an environment that is reminiscent of our Catholic school church festivals that we all group up with in the summers,” she explained. “What we really want to do is just create some community gatherings in a safe, welcoming environment.”
At first, Lombardo and other organizers felt the weekly events would attract just school families, but much to their delight, the wider community is also supporting it.
“Oh, I think it helps the school, and it helps the parish, and a lot of people come and eat their supper – they don’t have to cook,” pointed out Rose Marie DeKoning, a Saint Rose of Lima parishioner as she was standing in line for a treat.
“Usually we have about six to eight food trucks, and every week it varies,” Lombardo-Jordan noted. “We have a huge variety of foods – something for everyone.”
Even the vendors love being part of such a spirit-filled gathering.
“It’s a real nice community event,” said Beth Beard of Chicken Rick’s BBQ. “We sell a good chicken dinner with baked beans and apple sauce and we just want to have the community come out and join us.”
The Ice House Café is another popular attraction. The specialty is shaved ice, but soft pretzels and nachos are also on the menu.
“It’s the community coming together,” observed owner Julie Johnston. “It’s everybody chipping in, and it’s a two way street. We’re here for the community, and the community is right back at us. They show up big.”
As he tended to a sizzling grill, Doug Rhodes of Doug’s Dawgs could not say enough positives about the weekly food fests.
“The appeal is you can get a number of different products in a small space, and you have a variety,” Rhodes mentioned while flipping some mouth-watering burgers, dogs, and sausage links.
The original plan was to feature the food trucks only through September, but because of the overwhelming popularity, Holy Trinity plans to continue the Wednesday night events through at least October, perhaps with food and beverage options appropriate for cooler weather.
Always on the menu will be the opportunity to celebrate the gift of Catholic education and the great people who support it.
“I think it symbolizes what our school is – it’s community,” Knopick said.
[Photo: Doug Rhodes prepares a sandwich at his Doug’s Dawgs food truck.]