MIAMI, FL – The menu of Miami’s Vibe 305 Café is full of names that may seem unconventional — a pulled-pork sandwich called Gratitude, for example, or a conch fritter and shrimp burger called Opportunity — until you learn the stories of the people making the food.

The food truck is staffed by at-risk young men, ages 12 to 19, many of whom have had run-ins with the law, including shoplifting and drug-dealing. They’re part of the Empowered Youth USA program that’s aimed, in part, at building character development and job skills as part of their rehabilitation.

Empowered Youth executive director Colleen Adams came up with the idea for Vibe 305 after her program’s participants were having difficulty landing jobs at fast-food restaurants.

“I was losing a lot of kids back to the street because they needed money,” Adams said. So she created jobs for them.

The truck is about to celebrate its first anniversary, roving the streets of Miami and serving comfort-food treats like fish tacos, burgers and crab cakes; add a Coke to your order and you’re not likely to need more than $10.

Vibe 305 has been such a success — it now employs a rotating, 15-person crew, making mostly minimum wage — that Empowered Youth is expanding the food truck into a permanent home at 20 NE 29th St. in Wynwood. Adams said she hopes to be able to give more young men jobs as bussers, servers, cooks and managers at the Wynwood location, which will feature portable food trailers.

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