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Southern Recipe pork rind recipe contest to benefit Saint Christopher charity group

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The key to good cooking is combining the right ingredients in just the right way for them to achieve the right balance. The same could be said for an online recipe contest currently underway.

In conjunction with National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, September 9-15, pork rind-maker Southern Recipe is hosting a contest called Pedal to the Kettle, in which the public is invited to vote among three recipes, each featuring innovative ways to incorporate Southern Recipe pork rinds into entrees that can be cooked in a truck cab using typical equipment a driver may travel with.

The public can go to the Southern Recipe website, PorkRinds.com, to see the recipes and pick on their favorite. Voting is free. And one vote is allowed per person per day through September 15. Each vote is also an entry to win $2,000 and a year’s supply of Southern Recipe products.

As part of Southern Recipe’s recognition to Truck Driver Appreciation Week, when voters go online, alongside the introduction to the contest, viewers will see the Saint Christopher Trucker Relief Fund logo and a link to that organization’s website.

In conjunction with the contest, Southern Recipe will donate $2,500 to Saint Christopher, a 501 (c)(3) charity that helps over-the-road/regional semi-truck drivers and their families when an illness or injury causes financial hardship. The group also works to provide programs that benefit professional drivers and the trucking industry.

Further down the contest page are links to the three recipes, one of which was created by Tom “Captain” Kyrk, who has established himself in recent years as one of the industry’s most vocal proponents of healthier lifestyles for truckers, particularly when it comes to their eating habits. Kyrk can be found not only on his own website, RoadTested Living.com, but at trucking events around the country, espousing the benefits of drivers doing their own cooking on the road.

Kyrk was at the recent Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, giving a demonstration of in-the-cab cooking, preparing a three-course meal using Southern Recipe pork rinds, in a continuation of his participation in the contest. After one of his presentations, he and Mark Singleton, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Southern Recipe and Rudolph Foods, discussed the contest and how it benefits everyone involved: Southern Recipe, the Saint Christopher fund, Kyrk and the trucking community as a whole.

Kyrk explained that when Southern Recipe approached him to be part of the contest, to come up with a recipe using their pork rinds, it was a perfect fit for his mission.

“I’m a driver who’s gained weight over the years,” Kyrk said. “I’ve lost weight over the years. And I’ve discovered that when I cook in the cab I tend to lose weight more.”

That is what motivated him to find methods and recipes that allow drivers to eat healthier, although,  “I don’t always like the term ‘healthy,’ because I think it gets misused,” he said. “I think it’s a case where I try to find better-for-me options.

He’s a big proponent of improving the quality of dishes by substituting ingredients. “Southern Recipe reached out to me and said, ‘have you ever tried pork rinds?’ And I’m going, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’ And lo and behold, it works.”

Now, pork rinds aren’t generally associated with healthy eating, but as Singleton pointed out, “these are not your grandfather’s pork rinds.”

“We took out all the artificial everything,” Singleton said. We took out 40 percent of the salt, no MSG.”

The rinds are oven baked, Singleton said, and they’ve followed the lead set by the makers of kettle chips by coming out with a line of exotic flavors: pineapple ancho chili, honey chipotle barbecue, spicy dill, sea salt and cracked pepper, cilantro lime, blackberry habanero and Korean Kimchi barbecue.

“We have zero carbs, zero trans fats, gluten free,” Singleton said, mentioning that Men’s Health magazine referred to them as a ‘genius junk food.’

“We have a really great story to tell.”

And through the contest they can tell it while showing their appreciation for the trucking industry and for the Saint Christopher fund.

This is the seventh year that Southern Recipe and its parent company, Rudolph Foods, has done something to mark Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Singleton said the company’s participation comes from a genuine sense of appreciation.

“Timely pickups and timely deliveries are critical to us,” Singleton said. It just makes sense when someone is that important to your operation that you acknowledge that and treat those people accordingly.

“We’re just friends making money.”

This is the third year the company has focused its attention on the Saint Christopher Trucker Relief Fund.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Southern Recipe again this year and support our road warriors,” said Shannon Currier, director of philanthropy and development at the Saint Christopher fund. “We hope the community supports this year’s campaign.  This is a fun way to give back and show what life on the road really looks like.”

Winners will be announced, and the charity donation will occur after Truck Driver Appreciation Week ends September 15.

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OOIDA Foundation issues information it says debunks driver shortage ‘myth’

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Most carriers with high turnover do so by design, says OOIDA President Todd Spencer. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions,” he said.

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s research foundation published two new documents it says debunks the driver shortage “myth.”

A fact sheet explains how the industry isn’t afflicted with a shortage of drivers, but is actually plagued with overcapacity and driver retention, the foundation reported.

A second, accompanying document talks about how wages have decreased for truck drivers at large carriers and many have moved toward smaller fleets.

Last year, the association also created a short video that explains why there is high turnover as opposed to a shortage.

“We are concerned about the perpetuation of a myth of driver shortage,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA President. “This misinformation is used to push agendas that are harmful to the industry and highway safety.”

To address the supposed driver “shortage,” some organizations have suggested that the age requirement to obtain a commercial driver’s license should be lowered from 21 to 18.

“If safety is the top priority when considering a change to a regulation, when it comes to age, the number should be raised, not lowered.” Spencer said.

OOIDA also contends that any issue with retention could be mitigated with other solutions that would be safer for all highway users.

For example, compensation has been shown to be tied directly to highway safety, as revealed in studies that suggest there is a strong correlation between driver pay and highway safety, Spencer said.

“Most carriers with high turnover do so by design,” he said. “They could deal with driver turnover by offering better wages and benefits and improved working conditions. But putting younger drivers behind the wheel of a truck isn’t the solution because it does nothing to address the underlying issues that push drivers out of the industry. It merely exacerbates the churn.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The association currently has more than 160,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Missouri, area.

 

 

 

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Bill to prevent shutdown has benefits for USDOT

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The legislative deal passed to prevent a government shutdown contains $45.3 billion for highways honoring FAST Act funding levels for 2019, plus $3.25 billion in supplemental funding out of the general fund. (AASHTO Journal)

WASHINGTON — As part of bicameral legislative deal to prevent a second partial federal government shutdown while providing monies to build a wall along parts of the southern U.S. border, a total of $26.5 billion in discretionary funds and $60 billion from Highway and Airport and Airway Trust Funds will be provided to the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to an article in the Journal, a publication of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

The legislative deal passed both the Senate and the House by wide margins.

This legislation also contains final funding for a series of fiscal year 2019 appropriations bills for nine federal departments and related agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Some of the USDOT appropriations measure include:

  • $45.3 billion for highways honoring FAST Act funding levels for 2019, plus $3.25 billion in supplemental funding out of the general fund.
  • Of that $3.25 billion in supplemental highway funding from the general fund, roughly $2.7 billion will be apportioned to the states as if it were Surface Transportation Block Grant Program funding, while $475 million will be for a Bridge Rehabilitation and Replacement program.
  • $900 million for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development or BUILD discretionary grant program grants, divided evenly between rural and urban projects.
  • $2.55 billion for the Capital Investment Grant program, including $1.27 billion for “new starts,” $635 million for “core capacity” and $527 million for “small starts.”

“This legislation makes a significant down payment on the border wall and provides a bipartisan path forward to complete the remaining FY19 spending bills,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

“Our bipartisan efforts have been essential in securing the passage of this bill and completing the FY19 appropriations process,” he said. “It is my hope that we will all continue to work together as we turn to the FY20 appropriations bills.”

“This is not the agreement I would have reached on my own [as] there are things in this bill that I support, and things that I disagree with – but that is the nature of a negotiation,” said Ranking Member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “This agreement funds nine federal departments and their related agencies. Everyone had to give something to reach a bipartisan compromise.”

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Driver Ronald Feimster hopes to take the freedom of the road to the next level in 2019  

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Ronald Feimster tried working in other kinds of jobs, but he found he likes the freedom and independence truck driving offers. His goal for 2019 is to get his own truck and become an owner-operator. (The Trucker: KLINT LOWRY)

You don’t head out on the road without an intended destination, and the vast majority of the time you have a route planned out. And it’s not a bad idea to approach life goals the same way.

Ronald Feimster has begun 2019 with a clear idea of where he wants to get to within the next year.

“My goal is to be an owner-operator and to drive for Oakley Trucking,” he said.

Feimster was finishing breakfast at the Iron Skillet at the TravelCenters of America/Petro truck stop at I-40, exit 161, just outside Little Rock, Arkansas. He’d struck up a conversation with a fellow driver, Tim Plubell, who’s been an owner-operator for nearly 20 years (A story about Plubell can be found in the XXX edition of The Trucker), so Feimster’s career goals were at the front of his mind when The Trucker caught up with him.

He’s done his homework, he said. He knows a lot goes into being an owner-operator.

“I drove for a lease operator before,” Feimster said. “He was the owner-operator. And I loved it. I loved the freedom of it. I know you have to pay for your own maintenance, but a lot of these companies nowadays, they help you with the maintenance, so that cuts that in half. Then you have that fuel surcharge, so that cuts that in half.”

Feimster, who hails from Rogers, Arkansas, has also done his homework on Oakley Trucking, a subsidiary of Bruce Oakley Inc., a commodity trading, distribution and transportation company based in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Oakley Trucking specializes dry bulk transportation throughout the Lower 48 and Canada.

“And Oakley, they pay excellent, but the catch is you have to own your own truck,” Feimster said. “Pull their trailers, but you own your own truck. That’s my goal.”

Long-term, he said, at 47, if all goes as he’s envisioning it, if he gets in at Oakley, it could be the kind of situation where he could spend the rest of his career there.

Not that he’s unhappy where he’s at. Feimster drives for Southern Refrigerated Transport, popularly known as SRT.

“They’re a good company,” Feimster said. “I’d recommend them to anybody.”

He runs a dedicated route pulling reefer for Tyson Foods. His route keeps him within the neighboring states of Arkansas. But, as he explained, he generally gets home about every three weeks.

“I could get home every weekend, but you don’t make any money like that,” he said. “You have to stay out here for a little while. Unless I were an owner-operator. Then I would do it differently.”

Feimster first got into trucking in 1998. Before that, he said, “I wasn’t really doing nothing.” In other words, he had jobs, but he didn’t have a career. “I was doing factory work. It wasn’t that good. So, I got into trucking, basically, to start making more money. I went ahead and got my CDL.”

He started out hauling logs. Since then he’s “been around,” he said, gaining experience working for Panther 2, Swift Transportation and Covenant Transport, which owns SRT.

At one point, he tried to get out of trucking. “I was over-the-road, and I was tired of going through those snowy mountains” in Colorado, he said. The job wasn’t worth risking his life.

“I said, ‘I have got to get out of this,’ because I had just gotten married, and then we had our first child. I’ve got to go home and be a dad,” Feimster said.

He went back to warehouse work and even became a supervisor. But he came to realize that he just wasn’t a company-culture kind of guy. One of the best things about truck driving, Feimster said, is there’s “no one breathing over your back.” Even after having been the one doing the breathing, he hates that kind of work environment.

He said he didn’t want to publicly describe the straw that broke the camel’s back and sent him to trucking. The short version of the story is he was told to fire an employee that he firmly believed didn’t deserve it.

“I said, ‘you know what? This is not a good way to treat people,’” he said. “That was enough for me. I talked to my old lady. I said, ‘I’m going to go back to truck driving.’ She said ‘OK, that’s what you want to do?’ I said I was going to be away from home, but our kids are grown. Everything’s fine. She said go for it. Here I am.”

Trucking may not be perfect, but he needs to feel that independence.

Sure, there are a few ways the job could be better. “We would like more pay,” he said, then quickly added, “who wouldn’t?”

It also bothers him that society in general doesn’t value what truckers do.

“If trucks stopped delivering for just a couple days, the country would come to a standstill,” he said. “Why isn’t the profession held in higher regard?”

Well, there isn’t a whole lot he can do about that. He appreciates what the profession means to him, and he intends to make the most of it.

 

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