Portland lunch-truck ladies make breast health their cause

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PORTLAND — In a region where food trucks and local beer abound, the owners of one mobile kitchen are bringing businesses together for a cause.

Brandi Haaf and Lonnie Stinson, owners of Crepe Elizabeth, are launching Lunch Ladies of Portland on Sunday, Oct. 21, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The event will take place from noon-5 p.m. at 219 Anderson St., and feature several woman-owned food trucks from around the area. Ten percent of all sales and 100 percent of the money from specialty items sold will go to the Maine Breast Cancer Coalition.

Haaf said she and Stinson wanted to both “highlight all women-owned businesses” operating locally, and raise money for Mainers affected by breast cancer.

The Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention recommended Maine Breast Cancer Coalition as the nonprofit that should benefit from the event. Haaf said MBCC delivers the “practical side of helping women in Maine.”

She added she likes the “boots on the ground” approach taken by MBCC, in part because the organization focuses on women who are not insured, are underinsured, or have low incomes.

“All the money stays in Maine and what they do is … they’ll get you a ride to your mammogram, (or) if you’re diagnosed with cancer they’ll help with child care,” she said. “It’s so practical, and women need that because people feel desperate when they have to sacrifice money for their health – it’s not right.”

In addition to Crepe Elizabeth, other participating food trucks will be The Muthah Truckah, Nom Bai, Grillin Brazilian, Suga Suga and Knew Potato Caboose.

Lone Pine Brewing, Good Fire Brewing, eighteen twenty wines and Blue Lobster Wines will also be involved.

Haaf said the breweries and wineries will have their tasting rooms open for the event and donate a percentage of their daily sales to MBCC.

Eighteen twenty wines and Blue Lobster Wines, she noted, are also owned by women.

Stinson said setting Lunch Ladies of Portland on Anderson Street, outside of Lone Pine Brewing, is a great spot because the business owners can basically “control both sides of the street” and the spot has high visibility.

Haaf said she is hoping for a “big, big turnout.”

In designing the logo for Lunch Ladies of Portland – a pink cartoon featuring a Rosie the Riveter-esque character wearing a pink hairnet – Haaf said she wanted to update Rosie’s traditional depiction.

“We wanted to make sure she didn’t look like every other white woman,” she said. “I wanted a neutral, more inclusive-looking gal.”

The cartoon lunch lady does not have a name yet; her moniker will be decided through a raffle held at the event.

Whoever’s name idea is chosen as the winner will win a “swag bag” with merchandise from the different food trucks involved.

Looking to the future, Haaf said she would like to do more Lunch Ladies of Portland events. For instance, she thinks an event next spring benefiting a local women’s shelter would be a good idea.

She noted there are “at least a dozen” women-owned food trucks and carts in the area, but because she thought of Lunch Ladies of Portland recently, only six were available to participate. She also hopes to include other female business owners from different parts of Maine in future events.

“The culinary world is still very dominated by men,” she said. “So it’s just neat to see gals that are really putting themselves out there and just hitting the streets, doing our thing.”

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Crepe Elizabeth owners Lonnie Stinson, left, and Brandi Haaf, are launching Lunch Ladies of Portland, an event featuring six food trucks owned by women, with proceeds on Oct. 21 benefiting Maine Breast Cancer Coalition.

Crepe Elizabeth owner Brandi Haaf said Lunch Ladies of Portland seemed like the perfect mash-up of philanthropy and highlighting local women-owned businesses.

Owners of mobile crepery Crepe Elizabeth are launching Lunch Ladies of Portland, an event featuring six local women-owned food trucks and benefiting Maine Breast Cancer Coalition Oct. 21.

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