The Make-A-Wish Foundation is famous for giving sick kids the chance to make one big, bold dream come true — a trip, an experience, a meeting with someone inspiring.
Lucas Hobbs of Eagan had his wish granted last summer with help from the Minnesota Food Truck Association. He dished up meals to six local groups, with nine food trucks helping out.
Now, Lucas, 13, has found a way to make his wish last a lot longer. He has started a nonprofit, Chef Lucas Food, that brings in food trucks to serve the needy. The nonprofit pays for the food, and the food trucks donate their labor.
Lucas’ original wish was already unusual. To show appreciation for the kindness and meals his family received when he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he wanted to operate a food truck, serving meals to his church, senior citizens, the homeless and police officers.
“It feels good to serve,” Lucas said. “Every single event I’ll remember until I’m like really old.”
Lucas and his family — his parents and four siblings — imagined continuing the charitable food truck concept by starting a nonprofit. A visit to the “Rachael Ray” show, where Lucas received a $10,000 surprise gift, made it possible.
“I was in complete shock when that happened,” Lucas said.
People urged Lucas to keep the money, but he wanted to use it to create the nonprofit, said his dad, Matt Hobbs.
“He said, ‘Nope, I just want to continue what I’m doing,’ ” Matt said. “I was extremely proud of him for that.”
The organization’s goals are to serve needy groups, especially other nonprofits and their clients, using food trucks. It also wants to help pediatric cancer patients and their families by organizing free restaurant outings and by delivering meal kits — containing all the ingredients to make a given recipe — to make mealtimes easy and fun.
One joy for cancer patients and their families is bonding by eating meals together, Matt said. “There is a direct connection between food and love.”
Serving up omelets
Chef Lucas Food’s first official gig was Wednesday at Dakota Woodlands, an Eagan shelter for homeless women and children. A food trailer called Kabomelette, specializing in kebabs and omelets, cooked breakfast foods including made-to-order omelets, sausage and potatoes.
“They don’t usually get a hot breakfast,” Lucas said.
Chelsea and Greg Miller, owners of Kabomelette, were happy to help, providing their trailer and the labor.
“Greg and I … still try to be as generous as we can,” she said. “This is the perfect thing because they pay for all the food.”
Chef Lucas Food paid for $360 in food costs, Lucas said.
Dakota Woodlands has room for 22 adults, and right now there are 45 kids there, too, said Beth Bromen, the shelter’s executive director.
“It’s just really sweet,” Bromen said of Lucas’ efforts. “He’s just a little kid, you know?”
The food truck visit was meaningful, she said.
“I think that [shelter residents] are always happy that people care about them,” she said. “Poverty puts a lot of stigma on people that they don’t fit in.”
Six years before Lucas got cancer, his mom, Sarah Hobbs, had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and beat it, Matt said. Both family members’ illnesses — and the community’s kindness in each case — play into why the family wanted to start a nonprofit.
Lucas is now cancer-free. He’s been in remission since last April.
“When your wife had cancer and then Lucas had it, it kind of shakes you to the core and encourages you to slow down and smell the roses,” Matt said. “When you’re blessed, it’s very easy to let go and give back.”