Memphis, TN: Local Food Truck Seeks to Unite Community with Healthy Alternatives

Robbie Porter Senior exercise science major, D’Ernest Rucker visits the Memphis Punch on Echles Street trailer before hitting the Student Recreation and Fitness Center on campus.

By Robbie Porter   |   The Daily Helmsman

Robbie Porter Senior exercise science major, D’Ernest Rucker visits the Memphis Punch on Echles Street trailer before hitting the Student Recreation and Fitness Center on campus.
Robbie Porter
Senior exercise science major, D’Ernest Rucker visits the Memphis Punch on Echles Street trailer before hitting the Student Recreation and Fitness Center on campus.

For students who park in the Central Avenue parking lot, there’s a good chance that they’ve seen a large blue trailer pulled over onEchles Street. The trailer belongs to Memphis Punch, a food truck that makes healthy, plant-based drinks.

“Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is make healthy choices more affordable for people in the city,” Laney Strange, the co-founder of Memphis Punch, said.

Since most of the food options available on campus do not necessarily offer the healthiest choices, Memphis Punch hopes to be a positive difference for students and the city as a whole, according Strange.

Strange, an adjunct computer science professor at the University of Memphis, has been working on the project since July when she moved to Memphis from San Francisco.

“It’s not just about a food truck or smoothies. It’s about making better choices, and there’s a whole network of people within the community trying to do just that. We just want to help make these healthy alternatives more seamless for the community,” Strange said.

The truck serves several different flavors of smoothies, but they are different from what one might get from Sonic.  The smoothies that Memphis Punch serve are all plant-based and do not have ice cream or other fattening fillers in it.  One flavor in particular, the Cherry Bomb, consists mainly of cherries, ice and pistachios. Other flavors include things like mango-pineapple and peanut butter and banana. They also plan on serving several seasonal flavors for the fall months.

Since the program has only been around for a few weeks, the people behind Memphis Punch are still trying to figure out where they fit into the community, according to Bobby Bickett, the other founder of Memphis Punch.
“It’s a laboratory on wheels,” Bickett said. “We’re innovation people. We both have backgrounds in innovative fields, so we’re basically trying to find out where the friction is in the market around town.”
Bickett also moved to Memphis in July, and he has invested the majority of his time working with his Memphis Punch project.  He has also spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the running and biking community interacts.

Before taking on the food truck business, Bickett spent a lot of his time in the office environment, so this change in business mixed with the cultural change has been a humbling experience, according to Bickett.

Memphis Punch has been in the works since Strange and Bickett arrived in Memphis in July, but they have been out in the street for about four weeks now. Bicket can be found all over the Greater Memphis area six days a week in the food truck, but he and Laney are usually at most health-related events in the area including bicycle and foot races.

“We use smoothies as a way to get healthy,” Bickett said. “We don’t cook, we’re busy, and we’re on the run.  Smoothies are easy, so we just want to use the easiness of smoothies to turn others on to eating healthy.”
To find out where Memphis Punch is going to be next, visit memphispunch.com.

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