Starting next week, Miyoko’s Creamery food truck will begin distributing approximately 1,500 to 2,000 vegan grilled cheese sandwiches per week to hospital workers and people in need during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, starting with three hospitals in Northern California’s Sonoma County and several food banks, including St. Vincent’s in Marin County. Initially, Miyoko’s food truck was set to tour 24 cities nationwide this spring, giving away free vegan sandwiches to promote its new legume-based cheese and oat-based butter lines. However, after halting the tour due to coronavirus concerns, the company pivoted the idea to serve people in need. “Repurposing our food truck is the least we can do for our heroes on the front line and people who are now struggling in our communities,” Miyoko’s Creamery Founder and CEO Miyoko Schinner told VegNews. “While bringing cheese crafted from plants to consumers is about creating a more compassionate food system, compassion also extends to how we treat each other day in and day out.” All food will be prepared and packaged remotely and delivered safely to a pick up point for distribution. 

Starting this month, Miyoko’s newest allergen-friendly cheese and butters—the ingredients used to craft the grilled cheese sandwiches—will be available at Whole Foods Market nationwide, with other retailers planned for the coming months. While Miyoko’s Creamery previously made its products from a cultured cashew base, the new cheese line is made from allergen-friendly oats, potatoes, and legumes and will be available in Farmhouse Cheddar and Pepper Jack slices and shreds. Whole Foods will also carry Miyoko’s new Oat Milk Butter in Sea Salt and Garlic Parm flavors. All of the new products will have a suggested retail price of $5.99, which is more competitively priced with dairy-based cheeses than its original cashew-based lines. 

The vegan company has also made some adjustments to ensure its workers are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Like many in the food production, we are an essential business and we continue to operate to keep the grocery shelves filled,” Schinner said. “We’ve implemented a policy that production employees who have symptoms or are diagnosed positive will get paid for 14 days or until they get cleared by a doctor so they don’t feel the pressure to come in sick, no matter what the cause.”