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Woman plans to start food truck business after battling through adversity, son’s illness

One bite is usually all it takes for people to get hooked on Rashelle Brooks’ macaroni and cheese.

“I've had quite a few people want to know when the mac and cheese is back in business,” she said.

Brooks’ recipes have earned a reputation from the Triangle to the Triad.

In 2014, she packed her car with macaroni and cheese to feed people who were hungry and homeless in downtown Raleigh.

That effort is how she developed the business name, Mac & Cheese Ministry.

As word traveled, her food got the attention of people who weren’t in need.

The popularity inspired Brooks to see if her mac and cheese was holding the recipe for a successful business plan.

“I ended up in Greensboro doing the Triad Startup Lab. They helped me market test the mac and cheese and I got a wonderful reception from the public,” she said.

She was making connections in Greensboro and her food was getting a strong following.

In January 2017, macaroni and cheese was no longer a priority.

Brooks’ son Joshua became ill and would later be diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia.

Her focus shifted to her son’s recovery.

As Joshua was beginning to get better, last November, Brooks’ job let her go.

“It was heartbreaking because that was my plan, that was our pathway back to a normal life,” she said.

What appeared to be a setback would actually help bring things full circle.

“The hospital staff, the social worker in particular, just sort of wrapped their arms around me and were like, ‘We've had your mac and cheese, we think you should really think about this being your next step,'” she said.

During the beginning of Joshua’s health journey, he drew a picture of a food truck.

“He said ‘When I get better, this is what I want to do’,” Brooks said.

Thanks to connections made through the hospital staff, the family now has a food truck in storage in Greensboro.

The family needs to complete the final leg of its fundraising goal to have enough money to put the finishing touches on the truck.

The hope is that it will be ready by the end of spring 2018.