During the summer of 2020, the Watson family purchased an ice cream truck—but they never intended on selling ice cream. Instead, they used the brightly colored turquoise truck to give out free hot lunches and ice cream to kids in their rural, small-town community of Frazeysburg, Ohio.
“I grew up in Frazeysburg,” says Jason Watson, father of the Watson family. “There’s only one stoplight, one place to get groceries. It’s a close-knit community where people step up and help one another.”
After college, Jason and his wife Anne moved back to Frazeysburg with their three kids, Lily, Skye, and Pax. Quickly into his new teaching position as a physical education teacher, Jason realized that many kids in the community didn’t have access to quality food and were relying on school lunches to get by. To help, the Watson family set up a free community-powered food pantry.
“Our first instinct as God-fearing people was to pray for these children,” Anne shares. “But I heard God’s voice saying, ‘Oh no, I put you here—you’re doing something.'”
The poverty rate in Frazeysburg is over 5% higher than the rest of the United States.* The Watsons’ food pantry operates on generous canned food donations from local community members—and feeds more people than they initially expected.
When COVID started, the Watsons realized that the kids in Frazeysburg likely weren’t getting enough food without access to school lunches. So they bought an ice cream truck to deliver food—and a little fun—to their neighbors.
“When the kids hear the music, they come out running,” Jason shares. “We have hot lunches and ice cream—we want to bless them with good stuff.”
Gearing up for another summer delivering food in the ice cream truck, the Watsons discovered that the vehicle needed extensive mechanical work. With people around town always asking how they could help with their mission, the Watsons decided to start a GoFundMe so their community could help them get back on the road.
“The first night I posted, my phone was buzzing all night with people donating and money coming in,” Jason shares. “That showed us that it’s not just an ice cream truck—people see the need for it.”
Donors from the Frazeysburg community and beyond have helped the Watsons raise enough money to cover engine and transmission repairs—but the family is still accepting donations to cover operational costs and, maybe one day, expand their radius to neighboring towns.
“The ice cream truck has opened so many doors to help other people, talk to them, and serve them,” says Jason.
For people who may be looking to help out in their communities, Anne’s advice is simple:
“Find something that you enjoy, and then help somebody with that.”