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'Chef' Dalvin Cook: Vikings Table 'Truly Means a Lot to Me'

The Minnesota Vikings Foundation rolled out Vikings Table, a custom-built food truck that will be used to distribute healthy meals to youth in the Twin Cities who are dealing with food insecurity.

EAGAN, Minn. — Now serving hot meals from some cool wheels.

The **Vikings Table** charity food truck was unveiled to media Thursday outside Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center and served up samples of hot dogs and a fun take on a hotdish to celebrate its launch.

Vikings Table is an **innovative approach** to help solve an ongoing problem.

There are approximately 250,000 young people in Minnesota who face food insecurities during summer months when school is not in session.

The idea is two years in the making and came to be through collaboration with nonprofit organizations.

A partnership between the Minnesota Vikings Foundation and Xcel Energy, which has committed $1.275 million over five years, is helping spin the wheels for the 38-foot custom-built Winnebago.

Minnesota Vikings Foundation Programs Coordinator Monterae Carter explained that the Foundation asked of nonprofits, "Where is your need? How can we help?"

"There's so many people doing great work in this community already, but we want to make sure we can increase their attendance at their site so they're also getting other resources," Carter said. "So at a fresh produce distribution, now you're also getting a hot meal that includes that produce so you know how to work with it.

"Xcel Energy is going to come along with us and give people energy-saving tips, so we really want to come full-circle with Vikings Table," Carter added. "We look at it as more than just a meal because of the education components and the resources that we can add into all of these other nonprofits."

She said it was an honor to work on a project so closely connected to her passion for the youth in the community.

"Our staples are health and education," Carter said. "For me, how are the kids able to learn if they are hungry, if that is your first thought every day that you wake up? To be able to provide that meal and then get into the education programming pieces, this is really where it starts.

"We are just so excited to be able to provide these meals to our community," Carter added. "This is more than a community-facing process. Within the Vikings, everyone has really been in full support of this. We've had legal support, graphic design help, marketing details, all of these different pieces coming together, as well as partnerships delivering a great sponsor in Xcel Energy. It's really inclusive and true to the message to 'have a seat at our family table.' I feel like everyone that's a part of this is our family, so we are very excited today to see everyone enjoy this event."

The Minnesota Vikings Foundation rolled out Vikings Table, a custom-built food truck that will be used to distribute healthy meals to youth in the Twin Cities who are dealing with food insecurity.

The Foundation contracted with food truck experts Tony and Haley Fritz.

The Fritzes own two **O’Cheeze** (grilled cheese) food trucks and a brick-and-mortar location in St. Paul's Keg and Case Market, as well as a **Dough Dough** food truck and cookie dough location in the Mall of America. They will be responsible for operating, maintaining and staffing the Vikings Table food truck.

On Thursday, they had special help in distributing samples from "The Chef" Dalvin Cook.

The Vikings running back shared with media members that he had missed some meals during his upbringing.

"First, I want to thank everybody for coming out to the launch of the food truck," Cook said. "Second, I just want to thank the Minnesota Vikings organization for putting this thing together, because it truly means a lot to me, with my upbringing. I didn't know the true things to put in my body. Sometimes we skipped meals and didn't have it all of the time. Speaking for some of the guys in the locker room, we didn't always have a great upbringing and things weren't OK, so this truly means a lot to me. I'm a thousand-percent behind it."

He helped hand out hot dogs topped with a slaw that was made with Minnesota apples and "Tater Tot Hotdish Totchos," a spin on tater tot hotdish served in a nachos-style bowl.

Vikings Table will raise funds by serving traditional food truck fare at Vikings home games, training camp and other special events, as well as multiple days per week, and 100 percent of the profits will be committed toward the distribution of free, healthy meals.

"I'm so excited about what will come to be from this truck and how many smiling faces we'll be able to feed and help all of the individuals that we hope to impact," Haley Fritz said from the service window. "I'm just really excited to get it rolling, because to see something actually come to fruition that's kind of been a pipe dream of ours and find sponsors like Xcel and the Vikings that can help us do this and really be the driving force is a fun thing."

Here is some of the reaction on social media from the roll-out of Vikings Table:

Zimmern gives vote of approval

Food Network star Andrew Zimmern posted about the Vikings Table Thursday afternoon, giving the team a "Bravo!!!" for its efforts to combat food insecurity. In **another tweet** promoting the food truck, he implored his followers, "This is what we all need to be doing more of."

Thumbs-up from Tom Pelissero

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero covered Vikings minicamp practice Thursday as well as the Vikings Table roll-out. Pelissero filmed a segment with Andrew Siciliano and even grabbed a bite on-air. The NFL Network reporter approved of the Vikings Table menu item.

The value of rewarding work

The Vikings Table food truck is wrapped in a Vikings Purple overlay that includes a unique, illustrated graphic of the Twin Cities. True North, the Vikings internal graphic design team, is proud of the truck's aesthetics.

Official unveiling

Sam Ekstrom of Zone Coverage Minnesota posted a photo of the Thursday afternoon unveiling of the Vikings Table, which was attended by a large number of Twin Cities media members as well as Vikings staff.

Calling on 'The Chef'

Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, whose nickname is "The Chef," is increasing his involvement in the Twin Cities community by actively supporting the Vikings Table endeavors. Cook was on-hand for the unveiling and helped serve food samples.

A man of many talents

Cook showed off his multitasking ability when he answered questions from media members while also serving up samples.