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A Bagel Food Truck With a Mission

Friday, August 16, 2013
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Philly's first food truck dedicated to all things bagel. Photo by Stephanie Singer

This past Monday, as I approached my office, I spotted a new, bright red food truck in Love Park. I was intrigued.

"Schmear It," emblazoned across a light blue skyline, brought only one thing to mind: bagels.

The man inside the truck was wearing a Tribe 12 T-shirt, which fascinated me even more, since I was a 2012 Tribe 12 Fellow.

So here's the deal with Schmear It: Their delicous bagels are from the popular family-owned and -operated South Street Bagels. Once you place your order, the counterperson toasts your bagel and adds fresh toppings such as cream cheese, vegan "cream cheese" and lox. Their menu goes a little outside the circle with customized toppings like the Nutty Naner, a bagel topped with peanut butter, nutella and banana. They even offer a build-your-own option, where you can choose your bagel, topping and fixing.

What makes Schmear It a bit different from other food trucks is its focus on social entrepreneurship, which they've punnily coined, "Spreading some good." 

The truck will feature a different local cause each week. A portion of that week’s sales will then be donated to the designated nonprofit organization, and the truck will become, quite literally, a marketing vehicle, displaying information about the cause — its mission, local impact, ways to get involved — along with additional content featured on its website and social media pages. 

According to Danielle Selber, who oversees the Tribe 12 Fellowship and also co-directs the Collaborative social networking group, "Schmear It is a great example of the kinds of ventures the Tribe 12 Fellowship looks to support — it's original, sustainable and has a strong social good component."

The following is excerpted from an email interview I had with Chief Schmearer Dave Fine, a 2013 Tribe 12 Fellow:

Are you keeping your truck kosher?
 
I'm trying to figure out the process and the costs, and whether the prospective benefit merits that. Honestly, I just haven't been able to focus on this yet, getting everything else up and running. It is on my radar, as are "in between" solutions, like sourcing certified kosher bagels for a particular event. And, of course, everything is already "kosher style."  
 
How did Tribe 12 help you get your venture started?
 
The Tribe 12 Fellowship definitely helped me — everything from providing the general structure for solidifying my ideas to specific skills training, i.e. building a social business model. Perhaps most significant is its network, which continues to be an incredibly supportive resource. From my fellow Fellows to staff, mentors, the steering committee, and the Tribe 12 network at large — everyone brings diverse talents and interests, not to mention unwavering support and enthusiasm. 
 
Why the social aspect to the business? Can you share a bit more about your intention of food philanthropy?

The social aspect stems from my background and interests in the nonprofit sector. I worked for a nonprofit for almost two years and truly believe in working toward "doing good," but I wondered if one could do good as well — if not better — from a for-profit platform, like Tom's of Maine or Warby Parker, two companies in which I've developed a keen interest. I'm trying to do something similar in the food industry. Schmear It is an attempt to build this unique, fun, socially informed food concept in which customers are empowered as do-gooders with no additional cost or effort.
 
Schmear It will be spreading the love and cream cheese weekdays in Love Park in Center City and on Drexel's campus in University City. Follow them on Twitter, @SchmearIt, for their most current location.
 
To learn more about applying for the 2014 Tribe 12 Fellowship, click here.


Schmear It Good,

Stephanie
The Bubbi Project

 

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