After a mother lost her child to a five-year battle to Leukemia, she founded a nonprofit to make sure the bellies of sick children were full.
That same mother will feed patrons at the Texas Country Reporters this Saturday.
The Loving Libbie Memorial Foundation, established in 2006 by Becky Nichols, evolved into a food truck by 2016.
“When I started this it was more for me because I needed something to focus on so I can talk about my daughter [Libbie] and it was shocking to see that it did the same thing for other people,” Nichols said.
The mission behind the Loving Libbie Memorial Foundation is to provide relief to Central Texas kids with cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
Stemmed from the foundation is the Comfort Through Food Program, which is directly funded by the food truck.
So far this year, the Comfort Through Food Programs has provided 4,100 servings of mac and cheese and 1,200 servings of chicken n’ dumplings.
“I’ve said this for the past 12 years — I’m about to start crying — the most important part of the ingredients of the mac and cheese is the intention in which it’s made. There’s no replacement for that,” Nichols said.
The Libbie Funtime Food Truck is planned to serve street tacos and its iconic mac and cheese near the main stage on Saturday. The foundation even placed in the top-25 in the HEB Quest For Texas Fest contest this year and will be sold in HEB stores.
“That will actually fund giving mac and cheese to new hospitals in new cities,” Nichols said.
The same mac and cheese is given to sick children when treatments impact their appetite.
“We have been told hundreds of times that the mac and cheese has helped them get through a procedure, and it’s something that they can actually eat,” Nichols said.
According to the foundation’s website, cancer and its treatments can negatively affect a child’s appetite and tolerance to foods, making it difficult to eat and maintain adequate nutrition to keep the body healthy. Cancer treatments can change a child’s senses of taste and smell, which can make food taste bitter or metallic. It can also cause mouth and/or throat sores or a sensitive oral cavity that causes trouble with swallowing.
“Adequate nutrition can be the key defense in the fight against cancer by helping pediatric patients manage symptoms and aid healing and recovery,” according to the website.
The colorful food truck serves more than a meal but also serves as entertainment, as it is equipped with a 40-inch LED television, an Xbox with wireless controllers, a karaoke machine, audio speakers, a public announcement system and a custom bean bag game.
The child-inspired design will catch the eye of any passerby too.
“The patients from the clinic — I interviewed them and asked them what they wanted the food truck to look like and got artwork from a bunch of the patients,” Nichols elaborated.
Dallas artist Jonathan Caustrita, who worked on several commercial projects such as The Family Guy and The Land Before Time, converted the children's drawings into the fun art display on the food truck.
Funds gathered from the truck not only fund the two comfort foods but benefit several projects within the Comfort Through Food Program. The foundation also hosts the Nicholas Project, which offers undecorated cakes to patients with colored icings and assorted sprinkles to decorate individual cakes while young patients undergo treatment. Other programs include the Food Fight For Life that provides four cooking program, Celebration Cakes for cancer patients who happen to spend their birthday in the hospital or clinic and provides meals during the holidays.
So far this year, the foundation has provided 75 celebration cakes and hosted 48 special events.
For more information and to hire the truck for an event or to donate, log onto https://lovinglibbie.org/.