Mangere East has a new food truck, run by a chef with experience at one of Auckland’s top restaurants and with a view to improve the local community.

"The food truck is just the vessel," said Maria Hunt, project manager and chef of Mangere East’s new Village Café food truck. "The concept of having a community cafe is to promote healthy food, so we're aiming to disrupt the local food environment, by producing healthier food for people wanting to make that kind of change. The majority of our food is gluten-free, dairy-free and we use natural sugars and sweeteners which is a huge difference from what you get across the road."

Hunt, formerly a sous chef at Epsom’s One Tree Grill, had always had the idea of a food truck at the back of her mind. When the opportunity arose to lead the social enterprise she jumped at the chance. She has hired two local women to work as baristas.

Hunt next plans to redo the foyer of the Metro Theatre on Massey Road, outside which the food truck is based, so it can serve as a community meeting space. "There aren't any cafes in Māngere East or just any food establishments where you can have a meal and sit down and have a meeting, except KFC," she said.

The community cafe will operate under the Mangere East ACCESS Trust, a charitable entity set up in 1997 to enrich the lives of people living in the Mangere community.