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New vendors set up shop at food truck event amid the COVID-19 pandemic


Key Takeaways

  • The Food Truck Market is a limited-time event that will run every Thursday through Sunday from Sept. 24 until Nov. 1. at the Walt Whitman Shops.
  • Food vendors demonstrate how they are able to stay safe and clean amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the morning of Sunday, Oct. 4, food vendors — standing six feet apart — set up their trucks and stands in the parking lot of the Walt Whitman Shops, located in Huntington Station, New York. People were walking around with masks on, some sitting on the pavement in a circle, while others stood in place.

The Food Truck Market is a limited-time event sponsored by Famous Food Festival. It will run every Thursday through Sunday, from Sept. 24  until Nov. 1. There are over 10 food trucks that offer a wide variety of tastes and cultures.

Tonia Torrellas sold a variety of homemade desserts like crumb cakes, cookies and crumb bars. (Photo by Antonio Ferme/Ithaca Week)

While Huntington is well-known for its wide variety of restaurants, this is one of the first times food trucks have hit the scene. Additionally, this is the first time that Tonia Torrellas has set up a table and sold her crumb cakes and pastries to her community.

“I started baking at home, and many people liked it,” Torrellas said. “We are actually debuting here at the food truck show.”

Across the lot from Torrella’s stand is Sweetwater Ices. The owner, Perry, makes Taiwanese and Japanese-styled shaved ices. He freezes flavor blocks with all-natural ingredients, from strawberries to dragonfruit. Like Torrellas, he also made his first appearance at a food event this month.

“I am usually located at Farmers Markets because all of the fruits I use are natural and organic,” Perry said. “Sometimes I’ll partner up with one of the farms there and use their produce to make the ices. People really like how they know the farmers that are making the ices.”

This was Perry’s first time bringing Sweetwater Ices to a food event like this as many of the Farmers Markets in the local area were shut down this year due to COVID-19 and the strict requirements from the New York State Department of Agriculture. 

Perry said that he has noticed how many of his customers prefer to do their shopping at Farmers Markets as opposed to a grocery store because they are outside in the open air and they feel safer.

“I feel like that’s the same thing here,” Perry said. “People might be using this as a night out. Come here, don’t deal with the waiters, have a great meal and you don’t really have to deal with too many people. People feel safer when they are out getting their food from people that are taking precautions and making safety measures.”

Sweetwater Ices sold many flavors of shaved ices including Double Mango, Blue Lagoon, Tropical Breeze and Key Lime Coconut. (Photo by Antonio Ferme/Ithaca Week)

Perry said that there were a lot of hoops to jump through, due to COVID-19, in order to become a part of the Food Truck Market. He said while there were a lot of extra precautions to take, it ultimately helped the environment feel a lot safer.

“You will see the hand sanitizer stations all around, and the vendors are further apart,” Perry said. “If you are serving food, you have to be wearing gloves and a mask. We even have a hand wash station, which is mandatory for every station.”

Dylan Nilsen, an employee of Knot of this World Pretzels, said that the Food Truck Market arranged the layout to make it more difficult for people to congregate.

“There is nowhere to sit here as they are trying to keep the crowds limited,” Nilsen said. “We keep everything covered, wear gloves and just try to keep as safe as possible while keeping the mask on.”

While Torrellas sells pastries on the side, she is primarily registered as a nurse, on Long Island.

“I wear full PPE, I’m literally head-to-toe covered,” Torrellas said. “That’s what I wear when I work as a nurse, and that’s the way I work when I bake these. I have my mask on, my gloves on.”

Torrellas said that while she is aware of the risk that the virus poses, she believes that it should not prohibit people from spending time outside as long as they take necessary precautions.

“I feel very strongly that we all need to do what we can to stay healthy and safe, but also live our lives,” Torrellas said. “So I feel good about being here.”

At the Food Truck Market, there were many hand sanitizer stations in place to make customers feel more comfortable. (Photo by Antonio Ferme/Ithaca Week)


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