Editor's note: This corrects the spelling of Jason Iehl's last name.
COSTA MESA — Few businesses have been able to capitalize on Twitter the way the gourmet food truck industry has — many reaching cult-like status with tens of thousands of followers.
Now all that viral media power will be used to feed Orange County's homeless as 20 local food trucks, with the help of multiple food bloggers, rev up their engines for a two-week "Drive Out Hunger" mobile food drive.
"There's a tight-knit community that gathers at the food trucks," said food blogger Kim Nelson. "We thought that it would be nice to give something back and coordinated with the trucks … if they could use the power of their followers to get out the message that we have a huge hunger problem right here in your backyard."
Nelson and her husband, Jason Iehl, editors of SaturdayNightFoodies.com, organized the drive with the goal of collecting 1,000 pounds of nonperishable food and other basic necessities to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank in Irvine.
Followers of any of the food trucks will find collection bins at the trucks' daily stops, which are often posted on Twitter and other social media pages in the morning. Additionally, an online monetary contribution site has been set up through SaturdayNightFoodies.com.
Having just launched on Sunday and lasting though Nov. 20, the drive has already seen a huge response online and at the trucks.
"I think we're going blow [1,000] pounds out of the water," said James Foxall, chief executive officer of The Taco Dawg.
The mobile food tuck, which specializes in "making good food not complicated," has already collected 100 pounds of canned goods, Foxall said.
And that's just from Foxall's close network of friends — many in the public haven't had time to get wind of the drive just yet.
Like many of the food trucks, The Taco Dawg has multiple Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, with a loyal wave of followers that will soon be receiving alerts about the truck's locations.
"The food truck industry is so connected to people through viral media that makes perfect companion to fundraiser," Foxall said. "I think next week it's really going to take off."