Food Truck Crawl: Downtown gathering brings mental health awareness
Activities were in full swing Thursday as people gathered downtown for Food Truck Crawl, which included a mental health awareness campaign.
Downtown Valdosta Main Street partnered with the Greater Valdosta United Way for a recurring food crawl.
People not only sampled food from the various food trucks and listened to the live tunes of Mainstream Band, but they also visited with representatives of local organizations such as Greenleaf Behavioral Health Hospital.
Other vendors included 90Works, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Lowndes County, Jacobs Ladder Therapeutic Riding Services, The Haven, Hospice of South Georgia, and the Langdale Hospice House.
The Shrimp Box, Jessie’s Restaurant and Catering, Kona Ice of Lowndes, and Big Nick’s on Baytree were among the food vendors.
Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson and Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter presented a joint proclamation, declaring Thursday as Mental Health Awareness Night.
“And whereas these challenging times, messages of hope and healing are more needed than ever,” Slaughter read.
“And whereas Lowndes/Valdosta residents should be able to access high-quality prevention, support, rehabilitation, and treatment services that lead to recovery and a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Through the proclamation, Matheson and Slaughter encouraged people to recognize signs that a person is having an issue and lead them to support.
Leadership Lowndes Class of 2020 wrote inspiring messages on the sidewalk using chalk. Phrases like “You matter,” “Be happy,” and “Sunshine comes after the rain” were written.
Michael Smith, executive director of United Way, said his organization desired to bring awareness to mental health needs in a fun, family-friendly way.
He said they wanted to have an event where people could communicate openly about mental health.
“I think mental health is something we’ve all had to address with COVID and how much we’ve all been (shaken) up and changed,” Smith said. “I would say South Georgia hasn’t been aware of the need and the importance of taking care of your mental health. So, I think people are waking up to that idea that maybe other parts of the country might have had more resources and been more focused on it.”
Ellen Hill, Main Street director, said it’s important to remember one’s mental health daily.
She said the community and nation had a difficult couple of years. She added Thursday’s event increased awareness that “it’s OK to ask for help.”
Moving forward, Main Street would like to partner with other organizations to host themed Food Truck Crawls.
“The more people we can get out here, the better,” Hill said. “Downtown is about community, and we want everybody to be down here, so I think it’s just really great. We love to partner with people.”
Visit valdostamainstreet.com to learn how to become a Food Truck Crawl vendor.