The next time you pass a semi-trailer on the interstate, notice the license plates. Chances are it’s a Canadian trucker delivering food products and toilet paper to your local grocery store or needed manufacturing inputs to a plant in your area (because the U.S. and Canada have always made things together). Or maybe it’s a U.S. trucker headed north, since we share a heavily-travelled superhighway along the most highly-integrated supply chains in the world. Without truckers on the road, and especially during a pandemic, life would be a lot harder.
Together with front-line health care workers, professional drivers across the United States and Canada are everyday heroes who are delivering food, life-saving medical supplies (including ventilator parts), and other essential products during a global crisis. As the industry saying goes, “if you got it, a truck brought it”.
However, there’s another side to the story. Truckers have taken risks and faced hardship just doing their jobs. They’ve left their families to head out on long-haul routes far from the safety of their homes. They’ve dealt with closed roadside restaurants, closed restrooms, and closed shower facilities along the way. While most fast-food restaurants kept their drive-through windows open during the early stages of the COVID-19 shutdowns, most had policies against serving “walk-up traffic”. So truck drivers often could not buy food or access even basic amenities while on the road.
Canadian (Kamloops, B.C.-based) Munden Ventures Ltd. saw an opportunity to do something about it. President Greg Munden says Meals for Truckers started as a simple grassroots community movement to leverage the food truck industry to help drivers. A great idea took off; commercial fueling stations (such as Chevron) started allowing food trucks to park on their premises. Still other companies offered to sponsor food truck meals for drivers. Across British Columbia, truckers can now enjoy a range of food choices from tacos to Dutch specialties to pierogies and bratwurst. The success story is spreading: Meals for Truckers #feedatrucker invites any fuel stop or food truck to participate, and profiles the many “Highway Heroes” who travel across the U.S. and Canada.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance launched its popular “Thank a Trucker” initiative for members of the public to express appreciation to truck drivers on their social media platforms using the hashtags #thankatrucker and #thankadriver. Not sure what to say? The CTA offers some suggested language. “Truck driving is an essential service. Please treat these front-line workers with the utmost respect and dignity they deserve and thank a trucker for the amazing job they are doing during this critical time.”
So the next time you find what you’re looking for on your store shelves, thank a trucker. They’re the human face of what supply chains mean before, during and post-pandemic.