People not only sampled food from the various food trucks and listened to the live tunes of Mainstream Band, but they also visited with representatives of local organizations such as Greenleaf Behavioral Health Hospital.
The Shrimp Box, Jessie’s Restaurant and Catering, Kona Ice of Lowndes and Big Nick’s on Baytree were among the food vendors.
“And whereas these challenging times, messages of hope and healing are more needed than ever,” Slaughter read.
Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson and Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter presented a joint proclamation, declaring Thursday as Mental Health Awareness Night.
Downtown Valdosta Main Street partnered with the Greater Valdosta United Way for recurring food crawl.
Other vendors included 90Works, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Lowndes County, Jacobs Ladder Therapeutic Riding Services, The Haven, Hospice of South Georgia and the Langdale Hospice House.
“And whereas Lowndes/Valdosta residents should be able to access high quality prevention, support, rehabilitation and treatment services that lead to recovery and a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Through the proclamation, the Matheson and Slaughter encouraged people to recognize signs that a person is having an issue and lead them to support. Leadership Lowndes Class of 2020 wrote inspiring messages on the sidewalk using chalk. Phrases like “You matter,” “Be happy” and “Sunshine comes after the rain” were written.
Michael Smith, executive director of United Way, said his organization desired to bring awareness to mental health needs in a fun, family-friendly way. He said they wanted to have an event where people could communicate openly about mental health.
“I think mental health is something we’ve all had to address with COVID and how much we’ve all been (shaken) up and changed,” Smith said. “I would say South Georgia hasn’t been aware of the need and the importance of taking care of your mental health just like we’re a little bit behind on physical health, well-being and exercise. … So I think people are waking up to that idea that maybe other parts of the country maybe had more resources and been more focused on it.” Ellen Hill, Main Street director, said it’s important to remember one’s mental health daily.
“The more people we can get out here, the better,” Hill said. “Downtown is about community and we want everybody to be down here, so I think it’s just really great. We love to partner with people.” Visit valdostamainstreet.com to learn how to become a Food Truck Crawl vendor.
Moving forward, Main Street would like to partner with other organizations to host themed Food Truck Crawls. She said the community and nation has had a difficult couple of years. She added Thursday’s event increased awareness that “it’s OK to ask for help.”