It’s a wrap: Interfaith Sanctuary’s food trailer gets a post-pandemic makeover

On June 26, the trailer where Interfaith Sanctuary houses its food training program got a makeover courtesy of The Wrap Institute, an online learning community for vinyl wrap installation, production, and design.

The COVID-19 pandemic postponed the project, which began over a year ago. Justin Pate, the founder of The Wrap Institute, partnered with The Rag Company in Boise and the Phoenix-based company We Print Wraps to produce a design. The team worked throughout the year to create and print a colorful vinyl wrap to revamp the trailer’s exterior.

Food For All Who Need It

As COVID-19 swept into Idaho last year, churches and other service organizations that would typically step in to provide food service to residents without homes had to shut down, leaving just Interfaith Sanctuary and the Boise Rescue Mission to continue meal service in the Cooper Court area.

Interfaith began feeding both the guests who stayed at the shelter and anyone that needed a meal. Interfaith’s building doesn’t have a kitchen, so staff began searching for a food trailer that would expand our capacity to provide meals. True Hope Church offered funding to purchase a trailer.

“The food trailer allows us to make more food and get it to anyone for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Additionally, because we had such a big need paired with a small staff, we brought our guests in and created a food training program,” said Jodi Peterson-Stigers, executive director at Interfaith Sanctuary. 

Interfaith teaches guests who participate in the shelter’s programming how to prepare and reheat food safely. Participants get their ServSafe certifications, and Interfaith then connects graduates with people in the food industry to get them employed.

Long-term guests typically participate in either the organization’s mental health or recovery program. Those who meet specific criteria can opt to move into the food training program.

“It’s a win-win. The trailer is equipped with a commercial kitchen, and it lives at our shelter right now. The mobile kitchen made lots of possibilities happen, and it’s changing lives for our guests,” Peterson-Stigers said. 

“The usability that they feel and their sense of being able to give back to their community is a part of their recovery now. It’s amazing.”

The Doug Richards Cooking School

Interfaith Sanctuary named the food trailer after Doug Richards, a former janitor at First Baptist Church. “Doug worked at the church for years and never lived above the poverty level, but every year saved enough money to send one of the children from the church to summer camp,” Peterson-Stigers said.

One year, a congregation member started a life insurance company and gave 10 of those policies to the church’s staff. When Richards died, he had willed his life insurance policy to the church. “That money bought the trailer,” Peterson-Stigers said. “That’s why we named the training program after him.”

Wrapped Up

The Wrap Institute covered the food trailer in teal and yellow vinyl at The Rag Company’s media center in Boise on Sunday. The live-streamed event was the first The Wrap Institute has hosted since the pandemic began, and Pate said the opportunity to wrap the trailer was a special one.

“When we’re doing a live event, I always try to look for a cool person or charity to include,” he said. “I knew Jodi was doing cool stuff in Boise for the homeless, and so I talked to her about it, and it was just synergy. It’s awesome to see this all come together.”

Trish Dill, who oversees the designers at We Print Wraps, said the company chose to get involved for the cause. “Justin came to us and said this organization is in need, they’re doing a mobile kitchen, and he sent us a photo of the trailer as it was. It looked worn, and someone had branded it with another organization’s graphics,” Dill said.

Nate, a designer who works with food trucks and restaurants, used Interfaith Sanctuary’s logos and created a new look for the trailer. “He wanted to make it friendly and bright,” Dill said. “The thought was light colors, and we ghosted some of the food items onto the actual wrap to create contrast for a friendly appearance.”

According to Pate, the trailer is 63 inches tall and required fusing two vinyl panels into one wrap. Workers removed the adhesive covering and used squeegees to mat the colorful vinyl onto the trailer’s exterior walls.

The crew then finished the wrap with a ceramic coating from Gtechniq, which alongside The Rag Company donated $1000 to Interfaith Sanctuary to support the project. The Rag Company offered to clean the trailer and re-apply the coating annually, making the wrap usable for the next 7 to 8 years, Pate said.

The entire process took no more than two hours. “Look how beautiful it is,” said Peterson-Stigers as she watched the remodel with a group of Interfaith Sanctuary staff. “They captured who we are exactly — a safe shelter and second chances. I love how they put that in a big font. It warms my heart.”

Staff at Interfaith plans to put the trailer to good use in the Treasure Valley. “When we have our new building with the kitchen, this will hit the road to events and farmer’s markets. Our guests can make products, and we’ll be able to brand ourselves, and people will know who we are,” she said.