In Poitiers, a priest launches Frère Truck, a solidarity food truck

In Poitiers, a priest launches Frère Truck, a solidarity food truck

Once a week, Father Matthieu Le Merrer opens his creperie truck to meet the inhabitants of Poitiers. A solidarity initiative that arouses curiosity and exchange.

The two crepe makers are smoking. The smell tickles the taste buds, snack time is near. Behind the stoves located in this trailer converted into a traveling kitchen, Father Matthieu Le Merrer, wearing a fuchsia orange apron tied behind his back, is busy: the time to serve customers is approaching.

For the third consecutive week, the Poitevin priest opens the doors of “Frère Truck”, a solidarity and itinerant creperie whose name refers to the famous monk from the cartoon Robin Hood. “During my ordination, the bishop asked a question: what will the Church be like in ten years? remembers the 39-year-old priest. In 2022, ten years later, I understand that a lot of things have evolved. A pastoral solution that will revolutionize everything and attract the faithful in numbers is difficult to imagine. I wanted to implement a modest action to encourage meeting with a wide audience.” With this challenge, Father Matthieu Le Merrer also wants to diversify his missions. “The celebration of the sacraments remains the source and summit of my vocation but the Church must also reach out to others. This creperie embodies a small additional door for our parish which is opening.”

In fact, the price of the pancakes is quite attractive: 50 cents for a “plain” one and 1€ for those with chocolate, caramel, sugar or jam. The principle of hanging pancakes, paid in advance and offered to a customer who cannot afford them, is widely practiced there.

To launch the adventure, Father Matthieu, naturally discreet, put together a team of ten close friends and parishioners. “At first I thought he was joking,” says Anaëlle, laughing, protective cap on her head, member of the association who came to lend a hand for the day's service. But the determination of the man who is also chaplain of several scout groups quickly convinced him. Thanks to a collection of donations, the adventure was officially launched on February 2, 2024, Candlemas Day.

A meeting place for locals

Opposite the Saint-Cyprien church, in the Trois-Cités district of Poitiers, gourmets flock to this Wednesday of the spring holidays. At first glance, the food truck seems classic, only an icon of Taizé gives a clue to its evangelical vocation. Small T-shaped cross around the neck, the priest wants to make this place a place where everyone comes together. By quoting one of the passages from the Gospel that he particularly likes: “what you have hidden from the wise and learned, you have revealed to little ones”*, Matthew remains thoughtful: “We associate the priest with the one who speaks but my role is above all to listen.”

Privileged meetings

Moreover, while waiting for his order, a young man, with a bob on his head, asks: “And you do this voluntarily, alongside your work?” Learning that the cook with the wide smile is a priest, surprise shows on his face. He concludes: “I could make you an illustration: brother truck in a fantastic version if you like.” The outpouring of solidarity is largely bearing fruit. Soon, the truck will wear its orange color and the association's logo, a service also offered by a local resident.

A few minutes later, a couple and their little boy approach timidly. “We’ll get you three pancakes… and would you agree to meet us? We are considering having our 3-year-old boy baptized,” breathes the young mother. Before adding: “We are a mixed couple: I am Catholic, my husband is an atheist.” In his dad's arms, little Paul stretches his hands towards his four o'clock. The family sits a few meters away, on a public bench, the two parents agree: “Coming to have a pancake constitutes a first meeting with the Church which naturally breaks the ice.”

At the end of the day, the last orders of twelve are packaged. Once again, success was achieved. A few outings are still planned before the summer break… and the blessing of the Brother Truck truck which is already planning to drive to new neighborhoods.

*Gospel according to Saint Matthew, chapter 11, verse 25

Find tour dates and information about Frère Truck on his Facebook page

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