PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The steam from the hot food rising through the moonlight near Olneyville Square is a “welcome sign” for gourmet food, scooped onto plates for folks who aren’t used to such fare.
In the middle of it, Julius Searight adds a smile.
“It’s a treat for some,” he said. “They’ll get a hot meal on this cold night. Some take it home and eat. Some are homeless.”
This Johnson and Wales educated chef has a background that is often a recipe for trouble, but a list of struggles had a different impact on Searight.
He was born with cerebral palsy, to a drug-addicted mother. By the time Searight turned 8, he had lived in 13 different foster homes.
“Foster care growing up can be tough,” Searight says while dicing up a fresh pineapple. “Just having a family that took me in and adopted me meant so much.”
Searight is the face behind Food 4 Good, a nonprofit food truck that specializes in gourmet, crispy chicken sandwiches most of the time.
“Every five dollars that customers spend helps us provide two meals to someone in need,” Searight said.
That puts his truck back on the road three times a week to serve about 300 meals to people who often can’t afford to eat.
“It’s cold out there,” he says to someone waiting in Olneyville. “I hope you enjoy it.”
On this night, he is also giving away pastry donated by Starbucks and sandwiches provided by Eastside Marketplace.
Searight made the main dish.
“We’re serving up our chicken alfredo,” he says, pulling back the foil on a tub of pasta. “Gourmet, nothing processed, and something they’re not used to getting.”
Searight decided he wanted to help diners help others as a teenager when he volunteered at a number of locations, including food pantries. He clearly identifies with the struggles of his customers.
“”Hello,” he says toward the truck window. “How are you?”
“Can we get three dinners?” a man answers. “Three dinners?”
There are no limits at Food 4 Good.
“We have a policy, take what you need. Some people will grab five meals for the week because that’s all they’re going to have for the week.”
His mission also includes volunteering in the Crossroads kitchen, and he teaches in the truck, showing others how to cook healthy food for themselves.
“We try to give them something they’re not making at home, or can’t make at home,” Searight said. “Something healthy, fresh and hardy.”
Searight expects to expand his nonprofit with another truck in the near future.
“We might try something sweet, maybe donuts and milkshakes,” he added. “Savory now, sweet with that one.”