St. Paul, MN: ReFillMN is a Food Truck to Love

By Stephanie March |


Thursday’s food truck lunch was a bit more than inspiring. It wasn’t about the menu, but about the mission.

ReFillMN is a very special food truck. It parks outside of the Dorothy Day Center on Thursdays and opens its window to the hungry, handing out as many free meals as they can make. On the Thursday I was there, they were handing out fresh sandwiches with chips and fruit to a respectful, chatty waiting crowd that soon cleared them out of the 200 some meals being served by Mick Sterling.

This whole thing is his project, as a part of his 30 Days Foundation charitable organization. He was thinking about a way he could do more good and feed people and while chatting with Patrick Phelan, a food industry veteran who worked with some notable chefs in town, and the food truck idea took real shape. With a truck from Mark Palm’sChameleon Concessions that was tricked out through donations, they seem unstoppable. Their goal is to distribute1,000,000 meals by 2017. From the energy and dedication I saw that one shift, I have zero doubts that it will happen.

Here’s the plan.

First: Be a beacon.

Get donated food and sandwiches and meals and feed people now. That truck, with its friendly blue logo, is a staple at Dorothy Day for lunch on Thursdays, and some other days as well. It means something someone can count on, it means a meal. There is a crew of volunteers making it happen, dedicated to figuring this out, driving all over the metro to get food, and making connections so that food can get to people. They day I was there they met the people behindSerenity Sandwiches, within a week they served 400 meals together. “I spend most of my days crying” Phelan told me, “from the overwhelming generosity. Things are just falling out of the sky to make this a reality, and I am amazed. We just had a guy call us who wants to support and help start this program in California. We thought how great if we could have one truck in every state in five years.”

Second: Put the beacon in motion.

Get the food truck fully licensed so that it can act as a regular food truck and earn money, which all goes back to feeding and helping people. All 100 percent of it. They’re in process to debut their menu at Fulton Brewery on May 24th. Phelan has decided to launch with a menu of creative bao buns: Lakota Bao will be a Native American/Hmong community mash up of wild rice, root vegtable hash, and bison bacon. Another idea is to let local chefs and food people use the truck as a pop-up or a lab, to play with creativity for a good cause. If you see the ReFillMN truck on the lunch curb or at the taproom, it could be a new experience for you every time, while on the flip side, delivering a moment of good. It’s a billboard for hope. I dare you not to smile when you see it.

Third: Celebrate the solution.

Hello, this is Mick Sterling’s baby, like it’s not going to have a raucous fun side. The ReFillMN mission is to feed yourself while feeding others, so that we all keep the groove going. Events are being planned, music festivals, pub crawls and the like, that will all support the ReFill mission. Get the email and stay tuned.

You Can Do Your Part

  • Give cash. Gas costs money.
  • If you are chef or food industry person: donate food. Use the truck and I will cheer your name to the stars and come sling meals for you. I swear.
  • If you are a person who has friends, get them together and assemble sandwiches, make meals, do good. I will hold a whiskey tasting party and we will make sandwiches before sipping, wanna come?
  • If you are just you, sign up and show up. Volunteers are needed for lots of things.
  • If you have a voice, use it, spread the word. Be the Beacon.