South Bend woman plans to serve fast, healthy foods from new vegan food truck

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By: Gwen Ragno
gragno@flavor574.com

Photo supplied/Jessie Miles

Starting a vegan food truck has been a dream for Jessie Miles for some time. 

As a vegan living and working in South Bend for the past several years, Miles had a hard time finding interesting places to eat — especially fast, inexpensive ones.

When the “I Wish This Was” campaign in downtown South Bend turned up a multitude of requests for vegetarian and gluten-free food back in fall 2013, she knew she wasn’t alone.

Now, with the city of South Bend working on an ordinance to welcome food trucks into the city, it seemed the perfect time to act on that dream.

The Grateful Green Food Truck
See Jessie Miles talk about her vision and mission for The Grateful Green, and contribute to the fund for redesigning the exterior of the truck at IndieGoGo.com.

Miles wants to see The Grateful Green spending time downtown, where busy professionals need options for quick lunches that aren’t unhealthy fast food.

“Healthy takes too long, and anything fast is garbage,” she said. “We’ll provide a quick breakfast or lunch that’s healthy and tastes good, fills you up, with no unnecessary grease.”

The menu will start with a few light options like soups, sandwiches, salads, oatmeal and fresh, made-to-order juices and smoothies. There will be no fried food whatsoever, and everything possible will be organic and local.

Since many college students are jumping on the vegan and vegetarian bandwagon, she also plans for the truck to spend time near the campuses of Indiana University South Bend, Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College.

“I like the idea of being able to take it to where the people are, instead of waiting around for people to come to you,” she said.

Miles already has a truck lined up and as soon as the purchase is final, she’ll bring it back to South Bend to get updated equipment installed and start the process of acquiring all the necessary permits. Her timeline to hit the street partially depends upon when South Bend passes its proposed food truck ordinance.

Meanwhile, Miles is asking supporters for help updating the look of the outside of the truck, to make it as appetizing as possible.

“If you’re walking in the city and see a food truck that’s just a boring white truck, you’re not going to want to stop and get food there,” she said.

Contributions can be made through The Grateful Green’s IndieGoGo crowdfunding campaign, with a variety of perks from T-shirts and tote bags to free food and drinks.

Miles said plans for the truck will move ahead no matter what happens with the crowdfunding campaign, but those contributions will help the truck get on the road faster, look better and be more successful.

Though this is her first foray into the restaurant business, it isn’t Miles’ first entrepreneurial venture. She and her husband, Matt Miles, recently started a business together growing microgreens and wheatgrass, South Bend Urban Organics. Saturday, Aug. 8, was their first day selling out of the South Bend Farmers Market. Miles said the greens and wheatgrass will be used on the truck and soon, at a few other restaurants around town. 

The Grateful Green, too, will be a family affair, at least in the beginning. Down the road, she hopes to see it grow enough to hire more employees and eventually add a second truck or even a brick-and-mortar cafe.

Miles envisions her truck will soon be joined by many other South Bend food trucks, serving all sorts of tastes, gathering for events like ArtBeat and First Fridays, and generally making the city an even more thriving place.

She thinks back to when she moved to South Bend eight years ago and sees a totally different city.

“Now, there’s so much going on with music and food, there are breweries opening up…it’s definitely time for food trucks,” she said.

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